' History - Picchetti Winery


Picchetti Winery History

The Picchetti brothers, Vincenzo and Secondo, bought 160 acres on Montebello Ridge for $1,500. According to the California History Center, the Picchetti Family named the ridge Montebello and were the first family to plant vineyards. The first grapes planted were Zinfandel, Carignane and Petite Sirah. At first, the brothers only sold the grapes to local wineries, but in 1896 they decided to make their own wine, becoming one of the early wineries in California.

Secondo sold his half interest in the acreage (after a bear frightened his wife) to Vincenzo who purchased surrounding properties for a total of 500 acres.

The Picchetti Family donated building materials and labor for the construction of the Montebello School. The school was open for Montebello residents from October 3, 1892 until July 10, 2009. 

Construction on the Tasting Room building is completed. There is visible damage from the 1906 earthquake in the corner of the room.

Vincenzo Picchetti dies at age 56 . His sons Antone and John take over the winery and ranch. John had numerous aviaries built to house the beloved peacocks that still roam the grounds today.

The decorative barrel (located in the Tasting Room), was imported from Europe and was to be exhibited at The Panama–Pacific International Exposition, Worlds’ Trade Fair, held in San Francisco. Previously, there were wine-making instructions carved into the face, but they have since been painted over.

1920 - 1933
(Prohibition Era)

During Prohibition, The Picchetti Family was allowed to produce 200-gallons per year for “Family Use”. After prohibition, they could not afford to update their equipment to meet the new government standards, and were forced to sell acres of vineyards to meet expenses. 

The Wine Institute of San Francisco lists the Picchetti winery as Bonded Winery No. 148.

The Winery closed, and the property was officially sold to the Mid-Peninsula Open Space. The Picchetti Family produced wine for 72 years (1891 - 1963), and was considered a small family winery with wines that were frequently of outstanding quality and always distinctive in flavor. Unlike many mass-produced wines, the Picchetti wines aged naturally for at least three years, a process generally used to create finer wines. "They created a wine that was still alive and produced a sediment in the bottle which did not affect the flavor." - Historical Review

1982 - 1997
(Sunrise Winery)

The Santa Clara County Historical Heritage Commission provided funding for the restoration of the winery building. The land produced wine from 1982 to 1997 as Sunrise Winery.

Julia Roberts’ first movie, Blood Red, is filmed on location at the Picchetti Ranch. The spaghetti western starred Julia Roberts, her brother Eric Roberts, Dennis Hopper, and Bert Young.

(New Ownership)

Leslie Pantling begins leasing the Picchetti Ranch, and re-opens under the name Picchetti Winery. She got her start by growing grapes for Ridge Winery in the early 1990’s. Using only word of mouth marketing, Picchetti Winery quickly became a popular destination for local wine enthusiasts. 

She keeps in the tradition of the original Picchetti family and runs the business with her three children; Cameron, Mattie Rose, & Grant. The wine labels are all designed by hand by Leslie’s sister-in-law, Michelle Potts, and silkscreened in 14ct gold ink. 

The Winery produces around 10,000 cases annually. The wine is only available for sale on location, and has never been distributed. All of the wine is still made onsite. The general philosophy of the winemaking team is to let the wines express themselves through minimal manipulation, and no expense is spared in the wine making process, and barrel selection.

125 years since the Picchetti Bros Opened
25 years since the re-opening of Picchetti Winery