Prima Materia Winery
Lake County AVA
Pietro Buttitta's culinary background became integral to his winemaking approach, in which he strives to capture a distinctive, Old World style blended with California’s terroir.
Established by winemaker, sommelier and chef Pietro Buttitta (pee-AYtro boo-TEET-a) in 2015, Prima Materia is a tiny winery situated in Lake County, California, between the Mayacamas mountain range and the extinct Mt. Konocti volcano. Here, Pietro grows a range of American-Italian grapes on a 12-acre vineyard and crafts small-batches of wine made with a classic Old World voice. His production may be limited, but his portfolio of wines is rather expansive, offering 15 to 16 different wines each year that show off traditional grape growing and winemaking methods while staying true to Lake County’s distinctive terroir.
Pietro Buttitta grew up on a vineyard in the Russian River Valley and always enjoyed the activities surrounding harvest. His grandfather had owned a 42-acre property and grew mostly French Colombard, Carignan, and Chasselas that were sold to Sebastiani, Korbel and Seghesio wineries. It would be years later that Pietro’s experiences would bring him full circle and he would find his place in a vineyard yet again.
Pietro went on to study philosophy and history at Portland State University and after interning at the iconic Napa Valley kitchen of Terra, decided to enter culinary school to become a chef. Over the years, he became a sous chef at several restaurants in Portland and naturally became interested in wine. In 2006, he helped out during a crush at Rosa d’Oro Vineyards and it proved to be a transformational moment for Pietro.
Pietro was inspired being in the vineyard, working outside, and getting involved with the agricultural side. He also spent time helping his father plant grapes in Lake County - on the property that one day would become the home of Prima Materia’s vineyard.
“Once I got my hands on the agricultural side, I began piecing together the winery side,” Pietro offered. “I was always interested in history and philosophy; if I’m going to grow Sangiovese, I want to know everything about it, from the ground up through 20 years transforming in the bottle.” Pietro found the transition from food to wine to happen quite naturally, and if anything, cooking paved the way perfectly. His culinary background became integral to his winemaking approach, in which he strives to capture a distinctive, Old World style blended with California’s terroir. Pietro also earned his level 2 sommelier certification along the way, which furthered his wine knowledge.
Prima Materia became a reality in 2015, focusing on small-batch bottlings of Italian-style wines. Pietro grows all of his own grapes at 1,500 feet of elevation in Lake County’s red volcanic soils. He does not use herbicides or pesticides and naturally crafts unfined and unfiltered wines that respect the classical varietal styles. Pietro only crafts about 1,200 cases each year.
The name of the winery, Prima Materia, is a nod to the art of alchemy and is defined as the raw material out of which a refined substance or ‘gold’ is produced - a fitting name for a chef and winemaker. Prima Materia’s wines are available for sampling at the winery Tasting Room in North Oakland. We hope our Garagiste Wine Club members enjoy this latest offering. Cheers!