The Piña ancestors arrived in the Napa Valley on wagon trains eight generations ago when the first vinifera plantings were barely in the ground. The family still owns and runs the Piña Napa Valley winery and Piña Vineyard Management.

The family atmosphere drew Winemaker Anna Monticelli to the winery almost 15 years ago. She explained, “John Piña was like a father to me.”

Anna is not your typical winemaker. Her husband Mario, a second-generation Italian American, is also a winemaker, and they spend their off-time making wine together in Italy. Wine is in Mario’s blood as a fourth-generation winemaker, but Anna came to the profession differently. Born in Poland, Anna fled the then Communist country with her parents and sibling when she was two years old. “They had two kids, two suitcases, and $1,000 in their pockets,” Anna explained. She describes how her father received a Fulbright scholarship in Engineering and later became a medical doctor.

She grew up wanting to be a doctor like her dad. He went to UC Davis medical school, and so she went there too. But after one viticulture and enology class in her first quarter, she fell in love with the subject, and at 17, she realized this was what she wanted to do with her life.

The family atmosphere drew Winemaker Anna Monticelli to the winery almost 15 years ago. She explained, “John Piña was like a father to me.”

Anna earned a degree in Viticulture and Enology at the University of California-Davis. She spent her fourth year studying abroad at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, and spent summers studying in Italy and Poland. After graduation, she experienced her first harvest while at Château Cheval Blanc in Bordeaux, France. Upon her return to California, she was tapped as the Assistant Winemaker at Seavey Vineyard in Napa Valley and then the Assistant Winemaker at Bryant Family Vineyard until she joined Piña Napa Valley as winemaker in 2007.

At Piña, Anna crafts single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from various Napa Valley AVAs, each wine expressing the terroir from which it originates.

In Oakville, the Ames Vineyard produces wine with juicy dark berry fruits, a luscious mouthfeel, and velvety tannins. Located in the Atlas Peak foothills, the D’Adamo Vineyard’s highly stressed vines produce well-balanced fruit and fruit-forward wine. From the Firehouse Vineyard of Rutherford, Anna makes a Cabernet Sauvignon with layers of dark berry fruits and nuances of crushed stone.

The Wolff Vineyard in the Yountville AVA boasts two soil profiles, weathered metavolcanic rock in one block and gravelly alluvium in another. Together, they allow Anna to create a Cabernet with a refined aroma of spice, savory herbs, and floral notes. High on Howell Mountain, the cool-climate Buckeye Vineyard fruit shows dark fruit flavors in warmer vintages but more earthy characteristics when cooler.

Sadly, the current generation of four Piña brothers suffered the loss of brother John in 2017. Still, the Piña family carries on, with John’s wife stepping in. It is a family affair. Just as family is at the core of Piña Napa Valley, it is at the heart of Anna’s world. She purposefully keeps a part of her family’s life in Europe, keeping her three children rooted in their heritage. This sense of family drew her to Piña, and it has kept her there for almost 15 years.


Story By: Layne Randolph // Photo courtesy of Piña Napa Valley