Italian Family History in a Glass
Antonio Castellucci’s fated San Francisco meeting with another first-generation Italian immigrant — whose family happened to be from the same small Calabrian town as Antonio’s—foretold the fortuity that was in store for him. He had landed in America on the Italian Feast Day of Saint Rita, and the woman he met that day was Rita, his future wife.
Fast forward 40 years, during which time Antonio had quietly bought up land in the Napa Valley while building his real estate business in the Bay Area. He did not acquire the property to plant vineyards, although his father Luigi made wine in his basement in Calabria, Italy—he was looking at land as an investment.
Over time, Antonio began to make wine for personal use from the vineyards on some properties. By the time his daughter Maria was old enough to choose a profession of her own, those properties were hot commodities. The family realized they owned some choice vineyard property, and Maria jumped at the chance to move her family to wine country and start a business. “I said, ‘let’s do wine,’ and we never looked back,” Maria explained.
Maria is the mother of three, with a fourth due this spring. “My children are only involved in picking and sorting now,” she said, “But I hope the business will stay in the family, even if it is only as a side hobby.” Although she consults with her family “about everything,” Maria spearheads the vineyard operations and wine production. They sell most of their exquisite, highly sought-after fruit to well-known wineries each year, and with the best lots, they produce around 750 cases a year under the eponymous label, Castellucci.
Of course, there was no other possible name for the wine. “This is really about an homage to my father,” Maria said. Maria’s admiration for her father is evident in stories she weaves into the conversation. But the business is hers.
Castellucci produces four wines, three of which are estate-grown and single-vineyard: Merlot from St. Helena, Cabernet Sauvignon from Rutherford, and Cabernet Sauvignon from Spring Mountain. They also produce a white wine, “Lucia,” Italian for light. Maria wanted to craft something for a more feminine palate; the white varietal may change each vintage, but the name remains the same.
“The three reds were created because we owned these properties. But Lucia was a personal project of mine,” Maria shared. “The 2017 Chenin Blanc is a Loire Valley- inspired, aromatic white. I didn’t plan on making a single-variety white, but it was so good, I had to.”
Award-winning Castellucci Winemaker Jac Cole, formerly with Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Stag’s Leap Winery, and Charles Krug Winery, brought a wealth of expertise to the Castellucci label.
“In 2003, I moved to Spring Mountain Vineyard, where I met Maria’s Mom and Dad, and the rest is history.”
Beyond wine, those prized real estate assets paid off in other ways. The family business “Castellucci Napa Valley” encompasses wine, hospitality, and luxury rentals at gated estates scattered throughout Napa Valley, most notably, the historic inn The Ink House in St. Helena.
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Article By: Layne Randolph // Photos Courtesy of Castellucci Napa Valley