Cecchetti-Sebastiani – Cecchetti Sebastiani Cellar – Brief Article

Philip E. Hiaring

Visitors to Cecchetti Sebastiani Cellar in Napa County shouldn’t expect to see a facility reminiscent of Chateau Margaux or a more contemporary California facility with mansard roofs tangled in ivy, or a Spanish Mission.

Instead, as the potential visitor motors up to the industrial park facility in southern Napa County, the visitor will see a plain old facility that could equally house a regional sales office and warehouse for a vacuum cleaner manufacturer.

There is no guided tour at Cecchetti Sebastiani, and the thirsty tourist would be hard-pressed to find a tasting room. That is, unless Bob Broman, veteran winemaker, offered to pull a cork or two in his office just off the reception desk.

What Cecchetti-Sebastiani Cellar is, is a negociant operation in a Napa County business park home to such kindred spirits as Bronco Wine Co. and Neocork Technologies. In fact, this American Canyon business park is like a mecca of suppliers of such items as glass, corks and equipment, as well as wineries themselves.

Cecchetti-Sebastiani already is outgrowing its Napa facility as its production continues to skyrocket. Initial production in 1985 was 500 cases; the outlook now is for 1 million cases total, with about 90% of that accounted for by the company’s Pepperwood Grove brand (the 2001 estimate for the brand, which debuted in 1991, was 600,000 cases).

The company owns no vineyard and does no crushing (except for a trial batch this past harvest). Instead, it buys bulk wine from Bronco, Delicato and Sebastiani, among others, and also buys grapes that are crushed elsewhere. The operation is “bare bones,” as they say.

As for bulk brokers, Joseph Ciatti Co. and Turrentine Wine Brokerage are the major sources, but Don Sebastiani (partner with brother-in-law Roy Cecchetti) said the company also uses Karen Mancuso for select small lots.

The present brand lineup for the company includes Cecchetti-sebastiani Napa Valley, Quatro Winery Sonoma County, Cecchetti-Sebastiani North and Central Coast and the aforementioned Pepperwood Grove.

The Napa Valley focus is on Bordeaux varietals, including Ca bernets franc, Sauvignon and Merlot. The Sonoma Quatro wines focus on that county’s terroir and the cultivars include Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier. The North Coast and Central Coast focus is on Pinot noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The Pepperwood Grove range features Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot noir, Syrah, Viognier, Cabernet franc, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.

At our visit, Broman said the current facility had 22,000 square feet and that it’s bursting at the seams. Expansion was in the air as Cecchett-Sebastiani seeks to double its space. No newcomer to the industry, Broman has a degree from UC Davis and has been winemaker at Concannon, Stags Leap Wine Cellars, St. Supery and Guenoc.

Presently, the winery uses the Neocork closure for its Pepperwood Grove line and natural cork for its more upscale wines.

It’s fair to say that the CecchettiSebastiani operation is lean and efficient. Pretty it isn’t, but then, isn’t it what’s in the bottle that counts?

RELATED ARTICLE: Don Sebastiani & Sons Bows

Don Sebastiani, longtime wine industry executive and most recently chief executive officer of the family owned Sebastiani Vineyards, Inc., has formed Don Sebastiani & Sons wine negociant firm in Sonoma, Calif.

Joining Don Sebastiani are his sons, Donny and August. Donny is marketing manager, and August will assume an active role in the company in 2002.

The first brand for the company is Smoking Loon, and the line includes Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, plus Syrah and Viognier. The wines are priced at under $10 per bottle suggested retail.

The “Smoking Loon” refers to a loon smoking a cigar on the label. Don’s father, the late August Sebastiani, was a wild fowl fancier, and Don is a cigar fan. The wines were expected to be in broad distribution by the end of 2001.

NVVA supports Windows of Hope

In October, The Napa Valley Vintners Association Board of Directors pledged $250,000 from the Napa Valley wine industry to the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund. The fund will provide aid to the families of victims who worked in the food service professions throughout the entire World Trade Center complex.

“The sobering events of September 11 have touched all of us deeply through our connections to Windows on the World,” NVVA President Margaret Duckhorn said. “It will be a long time before this icon is replaced. We can, however, begin to help the families who have suffered so much.”

To learn more about the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund, visit the Web site windowsofhope.org.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Hiaring Company

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group

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