John F. Tognetti (Jack) is the proprietor of Aloise Francisco Vineyards in the Los Carneros region of the Napa Valley. Born in 1917, he grew up in San Francisco and spent summers on his grandfathers farm in Watsonville. After studying agriculture at UC Davis he spent the next few years at sea serving as the finance officer on the President Cleveland during WWII. After returning home, Jack would begin working for American President Lines and in 1964 purchased his property in the Los Carneros region of Napa Valley. Success at work led to his promotion to Director of Marketing and Traffic from Korea to Karachi which would relocate him and his family to Hong Kong. Although his career in the freight industry allowed him to see the world, his passion was always agriculture. Jack knew he would eventually settle down on his land in Napa so he kept the property while he was living overseas and returned as often as possible.
When Jack purchased his farm, the Los Carneros region was not the desirable location it is today. In the 1960's many bypassed this region of the Napa Valley due to the colder weather and strong winds. However, it's the combination of cooler climate and fertile soils that result from the Carneros Creek feeding into nearby San Pablo Bay that makes this the ideal place to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Like much of Napa at the time, his property was an orchard with 600 prune and 400 pear trees. Jack would spend the next few years traveling between Hong Kong and Napa, spending time working on his farm whenever he was home. The property was often referred to as "The Ranch" by his family and friends due to the sheep, quail, and various livestock he would raise. Then, in 1980, Jack felt the property was ready for a big change. He made the decision to remove the orchards and began planting grapes. He named the vineyard after his wife Camille and himself, combining their middle names Aloise and Francisco. To this day Jack can still be found everyday cultivating his vines and sipping wine in his vineyard.
With his passion for farming and meticulous attention to detail, Jack's vineyard always yields an exceptional crop. Over the years this has attracted the attention of notable wineries who have purchased his Chardonnay grapes for uses in their premium wines. The first winery to do so was Swanson Vineyards and for many years his grapes were used in their Chardonnay - the same Chardonnay that was served to presidents and dignitaries in the White House. Jack and Marco Cappelli, Swanson's winemaker at the time, worked closely together during this time and quickly developed a strong friendship that still exists today.
In 1998 it was time for a change that would cause Jack's grapes to develop a bubbly personality. The quality of his fruit, combined with the unique characteristics of the Carneros region, made his grapes the perfect fit for Schramsberg Vineyard's renowned sparkling wines - wines that have been served in the White House, presented as gifts to foreign governments, and awarded for their superior quality around the world. A stong relationship would quickly developed and to this day the majority of the grapes from Aloise Francisco Vineyard are sold to Schramsberg to be made into their remarkable sparkling wines.
Although Jack grew and sold grapes for 30 years, he never made his own wine. His youngest son, Robert Tognetti, wanted to change this. On a rainy day in 2010, he did a second picking in the family vineyard with his two sons, Michael and Matthew. The grapes they harvested produced the first Tognetti Family wine. This first vintage was only 20 cases and was made for use by family and friends. Although this wine was not made for sale, it proved to be a vital step in Robert acheiving his dream of opening a winery in his family name.
In 2012, Robert achieved this dream by founding Tognetti Family Winery. With the help of, Wendy Tognetti, and their children: Michael, Matthew, Christina, and Jenny, the winery was formed. Starting with one varietal, Robert used grapes picked from his father's vineyard to make the first wine that would be sold under his family name. Staying true to his vision, Chardonnay from the family's property is produced on a limited basis each year and is sold exclusively to wine club members.
Looking forward, the Tognetti family will continue to offer exceptional Chardonnay while simultaneously expanding our portfolio of meticulously crafted small batch varietals - starting with a Napa Cabernet which will become available in 2016.