Winery Spotlight: Passalacqua Winery

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Every winery in Dry Creek Valley has a unique story to tell, and Passalacqua Winery is no exception. Passalacqua boasts one of the first-ever females to make wine and own a winery in California after prohibition.

The winery is family-owned, making wine and growing grapes in California for five generations. They specialize in small-lot production, taking part every aspect of the winery from planting and growing the grapes to making the wine.

History of this winery dates all the way back to 1865, when Francesco Passalacqua emigrated from Genoa, first embarking on San Francisco, before finally settling in Healdsburg. Once here, he immediately started planting grapes. Thirty years after, he opened Fitch Mountain Cellars. Though the winery closed long ago, visitors to downtown Healdsburg can still spot the original house and a half an acre of grapes on Fitch Street!

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A turning point came in 1930, when Francesco’s widow, Rachel, purchased the Oliveto Wine Company in Downtown Healdsburg. In 1933, her daughter, Edith, opened Sonoma Wine Cellars in that building. Edith was one of the first women in California to operate a winery after prohibition. To this day, Edith’s original label graces every bottle of their Estate Zinfandel.

In 1979, the third generation of winemakers made their mark. Tom Passalacqua and his wife, Sandi purchased a 300-acre ranch off of Mill Creek Road, at Dry Creek Valley’s southern tip. They planted cabernet sauvignon there.

In 2000, Tom and Sandi’s son, Jason, began making wine, inspired by his family’s rich history. In 2004, their current property on Lambert Bridge Road opened as what we know today as Passalacqua Winery. The winery includes a tasting room showcasing Zinfandel from select Dry Creek Valley vineyards and cabernet sauvignon from the family’s TR Passalacqua Vineyard.

Today, Jason Passalacqua continues his family tradition with pride. He involves his children (the fifth generation) in the business early on. Also, in continuing with the tradition of women winemakers, they hired Jessica Boone Bilbro as a winemaker in 2012! Check out their vineyard located in the heart of Dry Creek Valley and taste their exquisite 2013 Bacigalupi Vineyard Zinfandel while sitting outside and taking in mesmerizing vineyard views. 

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