Del Bondio Family Wine Company
Napa Valley AVA
100% Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
An incredibly tight nit third generation family operation from the very heart of Napa Valley has begun making a name for itself with an unusual twist. The winery is called the Del Bondio Family Wine Company and its principals, Jim Del Bondio, 55, and his 60-year old half-brother Rich Poncia, are doggedly determined to live up to their family’s name.
Del Bondio literally means “of the good God,” and it is the brothers’ intention to mirror the qualities of their surname through their wine operation. Jim and Rich are no strangers to the wine business and have been prestigious growers in Napa since their father Andrew Del Bondio acquired the prime property on Bella Oaks Lane back in the early 1950’s. The 31-acre ranch is located right in the middle of the Rutherford Bench, long considered to be the finest vineyard acreage for red grapes in Northern California, and arguably, the entire world.
When the Del Bondio Family acquired the original property, the ranch was half-planted in prunes and half in grapes, with a large percentage of vines over 50-years old. Almost immediately, the decision was made to convert the prune trees to vines. This early decision has allowed the family to enjoy a lengthy and profitable stint as premium growers in an area comprised of only premium growers. Even today, Del Bondio’s grape clients include Frog’s Leap, Cuvaison, Krug and Sebastiani. As Napa has prospered and grown, so has the reputation of the family’s Bella Oaks vineyards.
Now for the twist. At a point nearly ten years ago, another decision was made to turn the vineyards into organic production, a process that takes a minimum of seven years to complete and one that is relatively rare in this section of Napa.
According to Rich Poncia, “our Family has always been organically oriented, a fact that probably had it origins when we were involved in the cattle business.” While the family’s business has grown to include nearly seven hundred additional acres around the valley, special emphasis has always been given to the Bella Oaks ranch that produced the grapes for Del Bondio’s Cabernet Sauvignon.
“We are deeply involved in the government’s attempt to tighten the rules regarding organic production,” Poncia added. “For the past few years it seemed that there were a number of people interested in the term organic for marketing purposes only, and not enough regard was given to the true meaning of the word organic.”
The federal government stepped in early in 2002 and tightened the rules. Poncia expects less than 250 growers in California will be able to retain organic certification when the dust settles by the end of this year. Since the Del Bondio vineyard has always been considered exemplary by even the strictest standards, the Family has received a steady stream of wannabe organic growers as visitors to their property, and has even hosted a number of international farmers during the course of 2002.
Work is presently under way to build a new winery in Rutherford, a small capacity winery that could eventually produce a total of 5,000 cases.
The Del Bondio Family, however, is in no rush to increase their production. “This will be a slow evolution,” offered Shawn Sellers, 33, Rich’s son-in-law that handles the marketing for the new concern. “ Demand will dictate our rate of growth, and that’s the way it should be. After all, Rich and Jim still do all the leafing, pruning and weeding by hand, and that takes a great deal of work. All the family is involved.”
And the Del Bondio Family Wine Company is dedicated to quality. Originally set to introduce its wine with a 1996 Cabernet, the Family sold off the 800 cases after tasting the storied 1997 vintage while still in barrel. The abundant 1997 proved even better than expected and the company was off and running.
Del Bondio’s cabernets are a throwback to the rich, classically produced cabernets of the 1970’s and early 1980’s. The wines are truly a product of the Del Bondio Family’s philosophy.
“We truly believe that the land will give you greatness if you really take care of it,“ finalized Rich Poncia. Organically grown fruit might not be a pretty but it’s what’s inside that really counts.”
Prophetic words and great tasting wines. A truly classic combination.