John Pedroncelli, the winemaker who said longevity is what gave his wine the edge, died at 89 after a long battle with cancer.
Pedroncelli had been the head winemaker at Geyserville’s Pedroncelli Winery since 1948. He would have been 90 in May.
Julie Pedroncelli St. John, vice president of marketing, said “he was here every day until the middle of last year. He was having difficulty with balance so his activity had slowed, but he was giving input through last harvest.”
When his Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon won wine-of-the-week honors back in 2012, I was surprised to learn how involved he was in day-to-day winemaking. He was 86 at the time.
Pedroncelli was truly gifted at making affordable wine of high quality for the everyday wine drinker. Most of the wines continue to be $20 and under.
Like so many in Wine Country, Pedroncelli’s first lessons in winemaking came when he was a kid, working side by side with his father, John Sr.
After World War II and his service in the US Coast Guard, he studied winemaking at University of California at Davis.
In his post as head winemaker, he was devoted to making wines of quality by relying on the wealth of his experience.
In an interview he explained, “We choose the correct variety to match the right soil and micro-climate … In the beginning, we didn’t have that information and it was done by trial and error.”
I asked him what made him so good at his craft.
“Patience,” he said. “Lots of patience.”
(Read more about John Pedroncelli, Jr. in his obituary on the Press Democrat)