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Ristow Estate Vineyards

Napa Valley AVA

Incredibly lush and fruity wines

At the still youthful age of 63, Dr. Bruno Ristow can be considered as unique among the cadre of doctors that have made a successful intrusion into the world of winemaking.

The fact that he is distinctive stems from the fact that he is a native born Brazilian (from the Southern city of Brusque) and also that his professional specialty is plastic surgery, (David Bruce was a dermatologist and Robert Sinskey an eye surgeon), a rarity among medical professionals who also have wine careers.

Ristow came to the United States nearly forty years ago in search of cancer care for an ailing friend. He settled in New York where the care was supposedly the finest and finished his general surgery requirements in 1971. After being accepted in NYU’s prestigious plastic surgery school, he set about earning his credentials as a plastic surgeon. He also frequented New York’s Upper East Side wine stores and gradually learned about the subtle intricacies of wine. Upon graduating in 1972, the young surgeon envisioned California’s golden west and opted to settle in San Francisco.

One of his first patients was a relative of Louis Petri, an early president of the Vintners Association as well as an icon in the wine business and a director of the Bank of America. Petri invited Bruno Ristow to his condo in Napa Valley and Bruno Ristow’s love affair with the wine business was officially started.

“When I saw how very lovely the entire area was,” Dr. Ristow recently recalled, “I was totally impressed. We were only a hour from my work in San Francisco and I was standing in one of the most beautiful places on earth.”

The following year a small nine-acre parcel of land adjoining what is now Opus One became available and Bruno Ristow jumped at the opportunity. The idea of making wine was totally new to him and the new grower made a remarkable decision.

“I was familiar with Chardonnay so I decided to grow some on my property,” he conceded. “In looking back, I had no idea I was sitting next to one of the truly great parcels of land for growing Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a clear indication of just how inexperienced I was in the beginning.”

Several more small parcels of land became available and today’s modern Ristow Estate Vineyards comprised some 27-plus acres, of which eighteen are planted---- totally in Cabernet Sauvignon. The acreage is extremely rocky and production is limited to between 1 ½ tons and 3/12 tons per acre, depending on the specific blocks involved. The relatively low yields benefit Ristow’s wines that have been described by wine panels and periodicals as incredibly lush and fruity and immensely pleasurable to the palate.

Ristow Estate’s first release was a mere 500-plus cases in 1995, and the winery’s escalation has followed an extremely patient path. For 2004, only 1200 cases will become available and that pleases Bruno Ristow just fine.

“We produce whatever the grapes allow, and we take great care in ensuring that our final product is made to our exacting standards. Some of our wines are tasted more than fourteen times until we are satisfied.”

Ristow credits his wife Urannia and daughter Cecelia for the winery’s ultimate success. Urannia (in Greek, the Goddess of Astronomy) controls the winery’s money and is in effect, the managing director. Cecelia handles Ristow Estate’s marketing duties that now include distribution in twenty-three states and three foreign countries. The last country to be added is Brazil, Bruno Ristow’s birthplace.

“When I became a citizen in 1989, “ Ristow added, “ I swore allegiance to the United States. However, I have always had an incredible spot in my heart for my old country, and our being able to sell our wines there makes it all come together.”

It seems that everything has finally started to happen for the personable plastic surgeon that has seen his sizeable investment in the wine industry slowly evolve into a profitable venture. From our point of view, Bruno Ristow and his winery are already successful in so many ways.

We know you will agree. Please enjoy the wines of Ristow Estate, and all Gold Medal Wine Club wines, in the same manner that its founder would urge---with a marvelous helping of tender love and care, the same ingredients that Bruno Ristow knows went into the making of the wines.

Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,

Picture of Dear <i>Platinum Wine Club</i> Members,

When I first visited what would become Ristow Estates in 1983, I was struck by the beautiful view of the southeast hills of Napa Valley and the gentle cool breeze from the San Pablo Bay in the distance. At that time I was told the terrain was too rocky for a vineyard. I did not question the possibility until five years later when viticulturists told us the rocky hillside property was an ideal setting for Cabernet Sauvignon.

In 1989, heavy machinery tore through sheets of bedrock and the first nine acres of Cabernet Sauvignon were planted. Ten additional acres were then cleared and planted in 1991. When it came time to name the vineyard, Quinta de Pedras (“Place of Stones”) seemed quite appropriate. The Rocky terrain has provided its share of farming challenges, but it has also imparted our Cabernet Sauvignon with sense of place, or terroir.

Classic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon flavors of black currant, blueberry and bakers chocolate are complemented by exotic spices and a unique mineralogy, the distinguishing characteristic of Quinta de Pedras. Low yields, limited production and using only 100% estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon in each vintage we produce further intensifies the sense of place in our wine. Our Cabernet Sauvignon is an elegant and balanced expression of Quinta de Pedras and we are delighted to share our wine with you.


Brunno Rustow