Fotinos Brothers Winery
Sonoma County region
Tom and Chris are the owners of an exceptional boutique winery
Most wine consumers can identify with the wine industry’s Italian heritage but not many are aware that the Greeks have been producing wines for over 6,500 years. Dionysus (the Greek God of Wine) was responsible for spreading the word along the Mediterranean and none other than the famed Hippocrates prescribed wine to a number of his patients.
Our Platinum Series feature, Fotinos Brothers Winery, can trace its wine origins back many generations. In the late 1800’s, Christos Fotinos learned to make wine under his father in Lefkas, Greece. When he later immigrated to the United States, Christos Fotinos eventually made his way to Sonoma County and realized his dream of farming his own vineyard. Christos passed on his winemaking knowledge to his son Tom who in turn passed it on to his sons, Tom and Chris. In 1968, Tom (the father) purchased his own vineyard with the idea of creating one of the best private label Pinot Noirs in Napa Valley.
At the time, the large family would gather together on Sundays to enjoy Greek food and even stomp some grapes inside half barrels. Starting in 1973, some one hundred cases of wine were produced annually, mostly for family use and as gifts for close friends. These wines were also entered in many local wine contests and produced an unusually high number of ribbons and awards.
Today, Tom and Chris are the 5th generation of their family in the wine business. They are the owners of an exceptional boutique winery, Fotinos Brothers Winery, which is located in the lower Napa Valley growing region known as Carneros. The area is close to San Pablo Bay and benefits from its foggy mornings and wonderful sun-filled afternoons. Fotinos Brothers Winery comprises some 12 acres of Pinot Noir grapes and is regarded as one Napa Valley’s premier Burgundian vineyards.
The first Fotinos Brothers Winery releases saw the light of day in 2006, a smallish 600 cases to be exact. The winery has grown steadily and this year will produce around 3,000 cases.
“We have a business plan that call for us to be around 6,000 cases at our 10-year mark,” informed Chris Fotinos who handles the winery’s sales and marketing. “We want it to be even, half Pinot Noir and half Cabernet Sauvignon.”
To that end, the family has contracted for Cabernet Sauvignon fruit from a more northerly Napa Valley vineyard located near the Napa/Pope Valley line. They dictate the farming of a specific parcel on the property that is overseen by Tom’s wife Danielle, who carries an extensive background in vineyard management in her resume. She is also responsible for the Fotinos’ home vineyard that is all Pinot Noir.
But, the main emphasis at Fotinos Brothers Winery is, and has always been, the art of food pairing.
“We have always felt our wine can pair with just about any dish,” Chris Fotinos explained. “We sell about 70% of our wines to restaurants around the country. In New York, our wines might be paired with a great steak or something similar. In Chicago, the most likely pairing might easily be salmon or another great fish. The chefs certainly know what they want and they have chosen our wines for specific dishes they create. They are also extremely loyal to our winery and take their choices with them if they happen to change jobs.”
Chris Fotinos also related that about 25% of their production is sold through the internet and only 5% through wine stores. “Since our production sells out every year, we believe we have a good sales ratio in place, so we won’t be changing anything we do.”
There are plans to establish a tasting room on the Carneros winery property but nothing has been finalized for the near future. Visitors can call the winery for an appointment on an as available basis.
“We really don’t want to become a commercial winery,” Chris Fotinos added. “We are quite content with the way things are. We have the perfect setup. Danielle grows everything we need to be successful and Tom is a wonderful winemaker. He learned from the best and knows exactly what he wants in his wines. I manage to sell everything we produce so everyone is happy in the long run.”
Fotinos Bothers Winery is a throwback to the older, family-style wineries that initially made Napa Valley and its plethora of great wineries the success that it is today. We warmly welcome Fotinos Brothers Winery to the Gold Medal Wine Club family of wineries.
A Note from Dr. Christopher J. Fotinos
Dear Platinum Series Members,
On behalf of myself and the entire Fotinos Brothers Winery staff, we would like to introduce you to our award-winning 2010 Pinot Noir. Since 1973, my family has produced this Gold Medal winning wine from our Los Carneros vineyard, which has the ideal microclimate for our traditional, yet progressive style of viticulture.
This Pinot Noir is hand crafted with vine by vine attention, double sorted so only the finest fruit is utilized, and barrel aged in French oak for 16-18 months. It received a Gold Medal in the World Wine Championships and was given a 95 Point rating by the Beverage Testing Institute. The production of this Pinot Noir has the knowledge and expertise of over 125 years and four generations of the Fotinos Family winemaking experience.
Please enjoy this wine to its fullest potential with family and friends...
Dr. Christopher J. Fotinos