Vintner keeps winemaking a family affair

(written for the Los Altos Town Crier)

The wine business is often a family business, with multigenerational hands wielding blades when it comes time to harvest, and in-laws and nieces enjoying first samples of a given year’s yield. Labels and vines are passed from mothers to sons and fathers to daughters.
The all-in-the-family focus is a great thing for wine drinkers, because the love these families share is evident in the wines they produce.
Winemaker John Benedetti’s wife and son provide the inspiration – and vineyard company – for Sante Arcangeli wines. 

I recently met a local, family-centric winemaker at Honcho, the new wine bar in downtown Los Altos. John Benedetti of Sante Arcangeli Family Wines was hanging out at Honcho that night – his wines are featured on the lounge’s menu.
Our conversation about winemaking quickly became a chat about kids. John is a dad. Talking about his wines and his son produced the same wide smile and excited twinkle in his eyes.
“I used to work in high-tech,” shared Benedetti, adding that a primary reason for selling his tech business and making the leap to full-time winemaker was to focus on work that was more inclusive of his young son and family.
In celebration of Father’s Day, I asked Benedetti about how family influences his wines.
“Being a dad is a huge part of what I’m doing,” he said.
He explained that he’s working to build something his son, Lucca, will someday want to be a part of. While his son may be too young to fully appreciate what Benedetti is creating, after one taste of his well-balanced Split Rail Pinot Noir, it’s easy to imagine that his extended family is proud of what he is achieving.
“My dad gets involved, too,” Benedetti said. “He’s 83 now but can still shovel grapes when harvest comes around. It’s hard to make him sit down, actually. I’m often worried he’ll overwork. He and my mom show up at the winery all the time to help out and provide moral support.”
While there are key milestones in the year of a winemaker, such as harvest and bottling, it is a career with few days off. In addition to making Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and a Rosé of Pinot Noir under his Pescadero-based Sante Arcangeli label, Benedetti serves as a winemaker for several other local producers.
“It’s a career I love and one that usually loves me back,” he said.
For those celebrating their fathers by grilling outdoors this Father’s Day, Benedetti recommends his Mardikian Vineyard 2014 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast/Green Valley), which can be ordered online at
“The white pepper in the Mardikian begs for savory food, and the wine is big enough to hold its own against richer foods,” he said.
If you’re taking your dad out on the town the Saturday before Father’s Day, visit Honcho at 235 First St. for a glass of Sante Arcangeli’s local Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation Blend. Benedetti said the wine has wonderful structure and acidity.
For a family day trip beyond Los Altos’ bounds, the Sante Arcangeli tasting room at 216 Stage Road perches just over the hills at the heart of Pescadero.
Christine Moore is a Mountain View resident. To read her blog, visit
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