Working out of a century-old tin barn since 1993, Diane Wilson has established herself as a standout winemaker in Sonoma County. She started her winemaking career by winning Best Class for her wine, unusual for someone without formal winemaking training. The instant success she experienced with her first vintage has continued for over twenty years, recently taking home 38 gold and double gold medals for her wines at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. As the creative force behind Wilson Winery and Matrix Winery, Diane continues to accrue a staggering amount of awards each year. She uses self-described unorthodox methods to craft standout wines. Although she learned the basic elements of wine chemistry as a Biochemistry major in college, she says her degree isn’t what makes her a great winemaker. Instead, she credits her hands-on learning along with relying on her senses during the production process to know when it’s time to blend or bottle. Employing her senses has served well as her hand-grown single vineyard Duetto Zinfandel won the 94 “Point” North Coast Wine Challenge. Her Sawyer Zinfandel and Molly’s Petite Sirah earned two of her many Sonoma County Harvest Fair and San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Sweepstakes wins. At the 2011 International Women’s Winemaking Competition, Diane won three Best of Class awards, as well as Best of Show.
Diane and her husband, Ken Wilson, made their entry in the Dry Creek Valley as grape growers, planting their first vineyards high in the mountains of the northern part of the Dry Creek Appellation. Their love of family is reflected in the naming of their vineyards. Their first holdings were named after their children: Sydney, Victoria and Sawyer Wilson, as well as their parents: Carl, Dorothy, and Ellie. Today, some 22 years later, each of the children has a role in grown the business as well.
Winemaker Antoine Favero has a colorful personal history. He was born in the Champagne region of France, but at an early age moved with his family to a Peruvian coastal fishing village in South America. When Antoine was nine years old, he and his family relocated to Northern California’s wine country.
While attending the University of California at Davis, Antoine discovered enology and quickly developed a passion for the art and science of creating exceptional wines. He further honed his winemaking skills by working at several premier wineries, specializing in Bordeaux and Rhone varietals and Zinfandel. Over the last five years Antoine has made Mazzocco literally the talk of the town for his flavorful and unique Zinfandels.
As a winemaker, Antoine believes wines are “nurtured” rather than “produced.” His wines express the unique varietal and terroir characteristics of each vineyard site. There is no one more in tune with his Zinfandels, his wines than Antoine. Each is a unique piece of work and tribute to the vineyard and grapes used to make the wine.
Winemaker Chris Barrett’s passion and expertise are present in every bottle he produces. Born and raised in Sonoma County, his father originally taught him how to make wine in their garage. He only left wine country briefly to earn his degree in biology from California State University, Chico before coming back with his loving wife Angela to follow his passion and dream. When not managing the Pezzi King Estate and producing wine, Chris can be found building coral reef tanks with his sons, Bruce and Houston, or taking the family on fishing trips.
As Winemaker for Pezzi King and St. Anne’s Crossing wineries, Chris has won 4 Sweepstakes awards, including a rare “Double Sweepstakes” award at the 2012 Sonoma County Harvest Fair for his Pezzi King Reserve Row 26 Zinfandel and Royal Rot Sauvignon Blanc. He most recently won the sweepstakes at the 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for the Reserve Row 14 Zinfandel. He has accumulated numerous Double Gold and Gold medals, as well as 90+ Robert Parker and Wine Enthusiast ratings on multiple varietals and vintages. Chris has always had one foot in the lab and the other in the cellar. He worked for Vinquiry learning the ins and outs of wine analysis while developing his skills in fining and winemaking products before he took the senior analyst position at Sonoma Wine Company, where he was quickly promoted to Enologist. With his strong desire to make his own wines, he took the helm at Pezzi King with the 2008 harvest, producing multiple Gold Medal-winning wines from the start. Chris has worked closely with Ken Wilson to replant the Estate vineyards and help grow Pezzi King’s production. Chris maintains, “great wines really do start in the vineyard. You can’t make a great wine out of poor quality grapes.
Victoria grew up in the Wilson winemaking family as it literally started with the roots, when her father Ken farmed their first vines, and her mother, Diane, crafted the wines. In her childhood, Victoria learned the variables of terroir and the nuances that the earth and soils impart to the vines. Her respect for the responsible stewardship of the vineyards extended to her Environmental Sciences study at UCLA. When she returned from Los Angeles, she worked alongside her mother crafting world class Zinfandels, experiencing every aspect of crush and production. Wanting to understand the breadth of the wine business as completely as possible, she spent several years managing the Tasting Room at one of her family’s eight wineries, Soda Rock.
With a wealth of knowledge under her belt, returned once again to her true passion of winemaking, as Assistant Winemaker for Wilson Artisan Wineries. Today, Victoria Wilson is now at the helm of Matrix Winery. It has always been Victoria’s dream to produce high-end Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah from the land her father, Ken Wilson, has cultivated for so many years. After many years of working side by side with her mother Diane Wilson, Victoria has settled into her accomplished role producing unforgettable expressions of Russian River Valley wines.