Sonoma County Farm Bureau

Domenic Carinalli Honored for his “Lifetime Contribution to Sonoma County Agriculture.”

Longtime Farm Bureau director will be honored by Sonoma County Harvest Fair

Sonoma-Marin Farm News, September 2011
Story by Tim Tesconi

Domenic Carinalli and his Guernsey cow, Annette in the D&L Carnalli Vineyards. Carinalli who produces milk, wine and grapes on his ranch in Sebastopol will receive the Harvest Fair’s “Lifetime Contribution to Sonoma County Agriculture” Award on Sept. 24. (Photograph by Steven Knudsen of the Farm Bureau Staff).

Domenic Carinalli, 70, a lifelong dairy rancher and respected agricultural leader for a half century, is being honored by the Sonoma County Harvest Fair with the fair’s “Lifetime Contribution to Sonoma County Agriculture” Award.

Carinalli and other agricultural award recipients, along with the big winners in the wine and food competition, will be recognized at the Harvest Fair’s Sonoma County Wine Awards Dinner on Sept. 24 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. The Wine Awards Dinner precedes the Harvest Fair, which is Sept. 30 through Oct. 2 at the fairgrounds.

The “Lifetime Contribution” award recognizes Carinalli’s deep and enduring commitment to agriculture and his dedication to a way-of-life that he believes is worth preserving for generations to come in Sonoma County. That’s why he has devoted so much of his time to Sonoma County Farm Bureau and Western United Dairymen – organizations that collectively represent the interests of agricultural producers. He said farmers can’t tackle the issues alone and must work through strong and credible organizations to protect their interests whether it’s burdensome regulations, land use, transportation, markets or the many other issues that threaten farmers’ survival.

Carinalli has been a director of Sonoma County Farm Bureau since 1971 and is the longest serving director on the 19-member board. He served as Farm Bureau president in 1987-88. He is a director and past president of Western United Dairymen and a director of the  California Milk Advisory Board.

“Sonoma County is a great county, it’s a nice place to live and farm. But we will always have challenges as we work to keep agriculture viable and farmers on the land,” said Carinalli, a second generation dairy farmer. He milks 250 cows - Guernseys and Holsteins - on the Sebastopol ranch established by his parents, Domenico and Evelina Carinalli, in the 1920’s.

Carinalli said he wouldn’t be where he is today without the support and hard work of his wife of 42 years Lynda Carinalli, his true partner in life, farming and family. The Carinallis have three grown daughters – Ann, Gina and Diane - and seven grandchildren.
“Lynda holds everything together. She raised the family and continues to all the bookkeeping and everything else that needs to be done for the dairy and now our vineyards and D & L Carinalli wine,” said Carinalli.

Domenic and Lynda Carinalli own and manage 700 acres of farmland in west Sonoma County.  In addition to the 250 cows they milk on the home ranch on Gravenstein Highway, they farm 100 acres of premium quality vineyards along Llano Road. The Carinalli vineyards, located in the Russian River Valley appellation, produce chardonnay and pinot noir grapes. They sell most of the grape crop to a leading winery but annually produce 1,200 cases of ultra-premium wine under the D & L Carinalli Vineyards label.  The wines have won many awards including best of class in the chardonnay competition at last year’s Harvest Fair.

Carinalli said his gold medals wines are testament to the skills of winemaker Evelyn White and the soil and climate of the vineyard where the grapes are nurtured. Carinalli said the excellent soil and cool climate create ideal conditions where chardonnay and pinot noir grapes can attain their ultimate flavors and varietal expression. He said precision farming aimed at producing top quality grapes is another factor in producing the award winning wine.

“The vineyards are along the Laguna de Santa Rosa where the weather is cool and crisp and dominated by morning fog during the growing season. It’s the perfect weather for growing cool climate grapes like chardonnay and pinot noir,” said Carinalli, who planted his first grapes in 1996 to diversify his agricultural operations.

“The wines grapes have been a real good experience for me and my family. I grew up in the dairy business, became a dairy rancher and have had cows all of my life. But the grapes are something I did on my own. It’s been rewarding to grow grapes and produce wine that is recognized for its quality,” said Carinalli.

The D & L Carinalli Vineyards wines are sold through the vineyard’s website,, and various stores and wine shops throughout Sonoma County and in a number of shops throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Carinalli credits his connections through Sonoma County Farm Bureau for his decision to establish a vineyard and, then, the expert guidance to properly develop it. He said longtime Dry Creek Valley grape grower Richard Mounts, past president of Sonoma County Farm Bureau, advised him on the varietals to plant in his area and the right way to establish a vineyard.

Although commercial grape growing and winemaking are relatively new to Domenic and Lynda Carinalli, home winemaking has a long tradition in the Carinalli family. For as long as Domenic Carinalli can remember home winemaking has been part of his Italian family heritage. Domenic’s father, Domenico Carinalli Sr., came to America in 1921 from his hometown in Germasino, Italy. A picture of the Catholic Church in Germasino, an enduring symbol of the Carinalli heritage and their love of the land, is on the D & L Carinalli wine label.

When he arrived in Sonoma County in the early 1920’s Domenico Carinalli Sr. and his wife Evelina established a family farm in Sebastopol where they milked cows, made homemade cheese, churned butter and produced wine for the family table.

Domenic and Lynda Carinalli are continuing the family farming tradition on their ranches in Sonoma County, establishing an agricultural legacy that will continue through the generations with their children and grandchildren.

"We are looking forward to getting our daughters involved in the future,” said Carinalli.
Even at 70 years old, Carinalli has no intentions of retiring from farming or his active participation in the agricultural organizations that he believes are vital to protecting the interests of farmers and ranchers.

Carinalli said he is honored that he is being recognized for his lifetime on the land and his work in protecting the interests of other farmers and ranchers through his leadership in agricultural organizations.

“I am very appreciative of the award and feel proud that our community has an event like the Harvest Fair, which respects the achievements of those who produce, manage, process and market Sonoma County’s agricultural products,” said Carinalli.

In addition to Carinalli, the other Agricultural Award honorees are Brent Young of Sebastopol, winner of the of the Outstanding Young Person in Agribusiness Award; Ryan Petersen, winner of the Outstanding Young Farmer Award, and Oliver’s Markets, winner of the Friend of Sonoma County Agriculture Award.

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