By Tim Tesconi
An urban wine village has taken root just a few blocks north of downtown Santa Rosa to showcase Sonoma County’s agricultural bounty and the stellar wines of small-scale producers including vintages from Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm near Forestville.
Welcome to The Wineyard, an edgy and urbane wine tasting and club room located in Santa Rosa’s Vintners Square at 1305-A Cleveland Avenue in Santa Rosa. The urban wine village is the creation of husband and wife team Dino and Maria D’Argenzio and Dino’s brother, Ray D’Argenzio, who is the owner of the D’Argenzio Winery, which was established on the property 15 years ago. The winery opened a tasting room four years ago in a portion of the winery building.
In addition to The Wineyard and D’Argenzio Winery, the Santa Rosa Vintners Square, spread over one acre in an industrial area of Santa Rosa, includes The Hopyard, offering local craft beers, and the soon to open Cibo Rustico, an Italian restaurant owned and operated by Ray D’Argenzio. The Santa Rosa Vintners Square property, also home to Squire Cigars, offers local residents a close, convenient and sleekly hip place to savor Sonoma County’s best. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Monday and by appointment on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Dino and Maria D’Argenzio are deeply dedicated to preserving Sonoma County’s rich farming heritage while promoting new and upcoming wines and craft beers. The Wineyard is a platinum business member of Sonoma County Farm Bureau, the county’s largest agricultural organization.
The D’Argenzios, from Old World families, grew up with fresh produce and other farm products for the family table where there was always a jug of a favorite homemade wine. The good life is something they want to perpetuate and celebrate.
The Wineyard offers the chance to taste wines from boutique producers who make carefully-crafted wines in limited production. The D’Argenzios are shining the light on these select wines, which, often, are not available for public tasting. The Wineyard also offers the opportunity to meet and chat with the maker of these wines who will regularly be available to pour their wines and discuss their winemaking philosophy.
Dino D’Argenzio describes The Wineyard as an ‘incubator” for emerging wines and winemakers who are getting started and need a venue like The Wineyard to reach wine drinkers looking for vinous gems.
“Our concept at The Wineyard is to launch small brands by bringing together the lovers of wine with the makers of wine in a unique urban setting,” said Dino D’Argenzio, who has worked in commercial real estate for decades and remains an active partner in Keegan & Coppin, one of the region’s leading real estate firms. Dino and Maria, who are passionate about food, wine and local agriculture, will manage The Wineyard and its continued expansion as an in-town destination spot for wine, food and entertainment. They are business members of Sonoma County Farm Bureau, which works on many fronts to preserve agriculture and promote local farm products.
The Wineyard project is a D’Argenzio family affair that involves the three grown children, Rosie, Roman and Mia, who each have a role in some aspect of the business and its design and development. Rosie, the oldest who worked in graphic design for Veranda Magazine in New York City, played a major role in the edgy, industrial-chic design of The Wineyard’s interior space. Also, son Roman, a recent graduate in Marketing and Advertising from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, has been instrumental in the design and implementation of The Wineyard and The Hopyard logo development and brand advertising.
Chris O’Connell, who has 10 years of experience in tasting room management and sales, is the general manager of The Wineyard. O’Connell most recently worked as manager of Cuvaison Estate Winery in the Napa Valley.
Dino D’Argenzio said The Wineyard’s mission is to foster direct relations between the community, farms, wineries and artisan producers as a way to preserve and advance local agriculture. The Wineyard will also become the distribution point for boxes of produce, Olive Oils and beef jerky from the Shone Farm sold to consumer through the farm’s Community Supported Agriculture program. The CSA program offers weekly produce from Shone Farm’s sustainably farmed gardens to subscribers who pay a seasonal fee to get the produce while supporting students in their agricultural education.
In addition to the SRJC Shone Farm wine, the Wineyard now features three other wine labels, Atascadero Creek, founded in 1989, Flocchini, founded in 2005, and Jazz Cellars, founded in 2005.
Dino and Maria through the Dino and Maria D’Argenzio Agriculture Trust are providing the funding for the SRJC Shone Farm wine to be showcased at The Wineyard. The Trust was established to support worthwhile endeavors at Sonoma State University and SRJC that enhance agriculture and the wine industry in Sonoma County.
“Dino and Maria D’Argenzio have been more than gracious by donating space in their tasting room to support the Santa Rosa Junior College Shone Farm Winery.
This gives us a retail outlet for our fabulous wines. All sales benefit the Junior College Winery. In addition, they will be working to support student intern programs at the tasting room and offering space for other wine and food classes,” said Mack Schwing, chairman of the Shone Farm Winery and Foundation.
This summer, the D’Argenzios will be sponsoring Rootstock 2012, a fund-raising event at The Wineyard that brings together all that is hot and trendy in the culinary and entertainment world. Rootstock 2012 will be held Saturday, July 21 with the proceeds going to the wine program at SRJC.
Eventually, the D’Argenzios plan to feature 10 wineries at The Wineyard, representing all of the 13 appellations in Sonoma County. They also plan to offer classes and seminars on wine and food featuring local experts such as Michael Traverso and chef Josh Silvers and others from the culinary and wine worlds.
“We believe the time is right for a concept like The Wineyard and all that it offers as a Wine Country experience,” said Dino D’Argenzio.
The Wineyard and The Hopyard at Santa Rosa Vintners Square
Location: 1305-A Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa
Hours and Days: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday by appointment.Telephone: 707-595-1488