Per Bacco Cellars
Central Coast AVA
Handcrafted and true to their varietal characteristics
Named after an old Italian expression of wonder and delight, Per Bacco literally translates to “For Bacchus” (the Roman god of wine). The ancient expression was used to signify a rare or unexpected find, and owners Craig Shannon and Marco Rizzo found it to be an appropriate name for their boutique San Luis Obispo winery, Per Bacco Cellars.
Founded in 1998, Per Bacco is situated on the historic Filipponi Ranch just off Highway 101. Long time friends Marco Rizzo, owner of Cafe Roma Restaurant in San Luis Obispo, and Craig Shannon, a third generation vineyard manager, had long spoken about making wine together. When an opportunity arose to take over the lease of an old abandoned 4-acre vineyard and bring it back to life, the friends jumped at the chance and in 1996 obtained the quaint property near San Luis Obispo’s Edna Valley. Craig saw this as a chance to put to use all of his farming knowledge with Marco’s phenomenal palate, educated and perfected by years of working in the restaurant business. If they worked together, they believed they could do something really special.
Craig Shannon had grown up in the San Joaquin Valley, helping his family grow a number of crops, including cotton, almonds, walnuts, tomatoes, and wine grapes (which are sold to Napa vintners, including industry giant, Gallo). After obtaining three degrees from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo (Agricultural Business, Economics, and Marketing), Craig returned home to the family ranch and took over the management responsibilities for the operation. He also had an opportunity to travel to Mexico, where he researched both the growing and marketing of table grapes, and prompted his family to plant 350 acres in Sonara, Mexico. Such extensive farming experience has helped Craig Shannon to form Per Bacco into the small yet successful venture it is today.
Although the winery owns no vineyards, the flexibility of sourcing grapes from a number of nearby sites has proven to be a blessing. With wine grape varietals requiring a variety of climate and soil conditions, Craig and Marco enjoy seeking out select vineyard sites with grapes that meet their strict specifications.
Per Bacco’s first vintage was produced in 2007 at John Alban’s winery down the road in Arroyo Grande. Craig and Marco found Alban to be the perfect consulting winemaker for their small winery operation and continue to seek his advice on producing small lot, handcrafted premium wines. When their 2000 Edna Valley Chardonnay garnered 90 Points from Wine Enthusiast, they knew their efforts were paying off and those dreams of one day operating a world-class winery were coming true. Within a few years, Per Bacco’s Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio were 90+ winners as well!
Currently, Per Bacco Cellars produces their flagship Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, along with small amounts of Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and a dry Rose. Sourced from vineyards in Arroyo Grande, Edna Valley, San Luis Obispo’s Niven Home Ranch and Paso Robles’ Steinbeck Vineyards, Per Bacco makes the most of its idealistic location on the Central Coast with its accessibility to both warm and cool climate varietals. Located off the beaten path in San Luis Obispo County, Per Bacco Cellars offers a tasting experience unlike any other. Their small, unassuming winery facility is surrounded by rustic,country charm and the tasting room itself is located in the winery where visitors can taste the award-winning wines amidst the barrels. Outside, visitors can take a break from wine tasting at the bocce ball and horseshoe pitching areas, set alongside a seasonal creek. The setting is casual and welcoming, creating a personal tasting experience visitors are sure to remember for a long time to come.
Craig and Marco have recently added a value-priced second label to their Per Bacco Cellars brand, and named the portfolio Mani (Italian for “Hands”). The owners/friends each have three daughters and their handprints are represented on the label.
Now in its thirteenth year of production, Per Bacco Cellars has established itself as a leader for quality in San Luis Obispo County. With an incredible work ethic, and serious attention to detail, Craig Shannon and Marco Rizzo find joy in crafting wines of distinction and carving their own niche on California’s Central Coast.
About the Vineyard
Per Bacco’s 2007 Pinot Noir comes from the ultra cool climate site of Laetitia Vineyard in Arroyo Grande. The vineyard was first planted to grapes in 1982 when French viticulturists found that the growing conditions in Arroyo Grande Valley were of similar character to those of their homeland in Epernay, France. Today, the Pinot Noir grown on this vineyard is sustainably produced and some of California’s highest quality Pinot.
Located in southern San Luis Obispo County, the Arroyo Grande AVA is part of the larger Central Coast AVA and experiences a wide range of climates, allowing for a number of cool and warm climate varietals. Petit Sirah, Zinfandel, and many Rhône varietals are grown in the higher elevations never Lopez Lake, while Chardonnay and Pinot Noir thrive in the cooler mid- valley vineyards closer to the Pacific Ocean.
Craig Shannon - Owner & Winemaker
With the guidance of consulting winemaker John Alban,Craig has built Per Bacco into an award-winning label with an emphasis and enthusiasm for small lot Pinot Noir. Craig’s Pinots are crafted in a refined style of winemaking, allowing the nuances of the venerable grape to shine through.
In his free time, Craig enjoys spending time with his three daughters, who were part of the inspiration for Per Bacco’s second label of wines, Mani. When he’s not with family or at the winery, one can usually find Craig surfing at a nearby beach. He even likens his passion for surfing to winemaking: ‘Paddling into a wave is like tasting a wine with all your senses keyed in.” Craig invites you to visit Per Bacco Cellars, enjoy the fruits of his labor, and ‘ride the wave” of his award-winning wines.