Vineyards & Winemaking
Our winemaker and co-founder Giovanni (Gio) Balistreri will tell you that a great wine begins in the vineyard, and that it’s all about the site. With a “no boring sites” philosophy, Gio makes it his job to discover the best parcels of land for our vineyard sources. In this pursuit, elegance, tension, and harmony are the ideals.
PORTFOLIO OF WINES
Meet Our Winemaker
Russian River Vineyard’s winemaker and founding partner Giovanni (Gio) Balistreri will tell you that a great wine begins in the vineyard, and that it’s all about the site. A Sonoma County native, Gio grew up around wine and agriculture. In the summer after graduating from high school, Gio and his father planted a Pinot Noir vineyard in Freestone that would become the bedrock for his wine career.
After college, Gio honed his skills in the cellar under the tutelage of winemaker Anthony Austin, a protegé of Andre Tchelistcheff. In 2008, after a failed attempt at building their own winery, Gio and Anthony partnered with real estate investor Chris O’Neill on the renovation of the Russian River Vineyards property in Forestville. In 2012, Gio became winemaker and went on to win the 2016 Harvest Fair Sweepstakes naming Russian River Vineyards' 2014 Horseridge Pinot Noir the Best Red Wine in Sonoma County.
Today, Gio is very active in his community as the Board President of Russian River Valley Winegrowers. This year, for the first time, Gio will make wine from the Balistreri Family Vineyard in Freestone that he planted with his dad--the one that started it all.