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Sodaro Estate Vineyard & Winery - Napa Valley

93 Pts. Wine & Spirits - 91 Pts. Wine Enthusiast magazine

The family tradition began many years ago in Vallelunga, just south of the capital City of Palermo in Sicily. Guiseppe Sodaro, patriarch of the family, plied his trade as a barrel maker for some of the finest wines produced in Italy. When his business waned, Sodaro decided to come to the United States and finally settled in Chicago.

His family eventually prospered in this country and his sons and grandsons went on to successes in various fields. One grandson, Don Sodaro, never forgot his grandfather’s roots and his love of the wine business.

“Our family always appreciated wine, and in particular, my grandfather. It was always his dream to be reunited in some way with his love of wine,” Sodaro recalled.

Don Sodaro attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and eventually became a CPA. He joined a business firm and found himself in Southern California. He had always been interested in agriculture and eventually was named to a board along with one of California’s leading wine retailers.

“We would sit at the board meetings and talk wine and grapes,” Sodaro added. “My friend encouraged me to get into the business. I thought of my grandfather and decided to make his dream a reality.”

Don and his wife Dee Dee, spent the better part of the next year deciding on just where their new venture would be located. They visited numerous potential sites all the way from Santa Maria in the Central Coast to the more populated environs of Sonoma County and Napa Valley.

“We saw a number of places we liked but, in the end, Napa Valley won out because of the fact that it was the major leagues of wine growing and wine making. We wound up looking at more than 100 properties in Napa that fit our criteria. We finally found a place that looked like the real deal and decided to roll the dice. Far Niente had a vineyard across the street and that made it easy for us the make the final decision,” Sodaro confided.

That was 1998, and the Sodaros immediately went about replanting and refurbishing their new property. The location in Coombsville seemed too perfect to believe. Coombsville is immediately adjacent to the City of Napa, with picturesque rolling hills and a wonderful temperate climate due to its proximity to San Pablo Bay.

In 2002, the first 400 bottles of Sodaro Estate Winery were produced. As a marketing ploy, the bottles were sent to potential customers who were asked for their opinions on the new wines. Encouraged by enthusiastic feedback, Sodaro Estate immediately became a working winery.

“Our first commercial vintage release was in 2004,” Don Sodaro continued. “The results were pretty extraordinary. Our wines received a number of Gold Medals and some really high scores. It seemed we were on our way.”

The following year, the wine cave was excavated where Sodaro Estate wines were processed and aged. The final touches on some near-perfect gardens and re-fittings and improvements to the hillside home turned the property into an Italian villa. It was easy to imagine an estate in either Tuscany or the marvelous Piemonte Hills.

Today’s Sodaro Estate Vineyard and Winery produces around 1,400 cases per year. This is close to the maximum yield for the winery’s 10 acres of planted hillside vines. Strictly speaking, an annual production of between 1,000 and 1,200 cases would be more comfortable for Sodaro.

“We purposely grow our fruit at low yield to produce more intense flavors for our wines,” he explained. Our winemaking staff of Bill (formerly of Sterling Vineyards) and Dawnine Dyer (formerly of Domaine Chandon) then take the fruit and turn it into some really special wine. Our main aim is to keep our customers coming back for more and I firmly believe we have the formula in place to make that happen.”

The fact that the Sodaros have been able to recreate a bit of Italy in Napa Valley is an outright tribute to Guiseppe Sodaro’s marvelous dreams that were manifested by his grandson. Another generation of the family, in the person of Don and Dee Dee Sodaro’s daughter Martha Burke, is already involved with the winery in the role of business manager.

Wineries such as Sodaro Estate Vineyard and Winery are the very heart and soul of Napa Valley. They exhibit the basic inspirations and expressions that set Napa Valley apart from other wine growing and producing areas. It’s the reason the Sodaros came to Napa in the first place

  1. Sodaro
    2006 Proprietary Red Blend
    Private Reserve Estate Blend
    Napa Valley


    93 - Wine & Spirits
    id: 1214