The four Buoncristiani Brothers founded Buoncristiani Family Winery in 1999 in their early twenties. In fact the youngest brother, Nate, wasn't yet old enough to legally drink wine. Despite their young age, the four brothers already had numerous years of winemaking experience under their belts.
The winemaking tradition in the Buoncristiani family can be traced back to the late 19th century to the Buoncristiani Brother's great, great grandfather Nonno Angelo. The Buoncristiani family originated in the small town of Orentano located in Italy’s Toscana region. The family crafted Sangiovese, Trebbiano, and Vin Santo wines. In the early 1930’s, the Buoncristiani Brother's great grandfather Jacopo immigrated with half his family to the United States, bringing with him the tradition of winemaking. Jacopo settled in San Francisco’s North Beach area and fermented fruit from the surrounding valleys in his basement. Bisnonno Jacopo would then share his wine with family and friends.
During the time period between 1940 and 1965, the Buoncristiani Brother's paternal grandfather, Nonno Ozzie, and his uncle were wholesale wine distributors in the Bay Area and had the exclusive distributorship of all Beaulieu Vineyard wines. Their exclusive distributorship was based in San Francisco and ranged as far north as Oregon, to the east including Nevada, and south to Santa Barbara, California. Nonno Ozzie also managed and owned a restaurant, The Chuck Wagon Steakhouse in the West Portal neighborhood of San Francisco, extending his love for food and wines to others.
In 1972, the Buoncristiani Brother's father Roberto Buoncristiani continued the tradition of making wine. He and the four brother's padrino (Angel Sierra) built their own equipment including a press and crusher. Roberto made wine as a labor of love. Every year at Christmas you would find Roberto and his four sons with their wagon, carting around gifts of wine that were to be passed out to the neighbors.
Roberto and Angel bought their own fruit up until 1980. After 1980, Roberto began to grow his own fruit in the Napa and Sonoma valleys. He planted and managed Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot and Franken Riesling in leased vineyards. Many of the wines he crafted at that time won awards from both the county and state. Roberto's wife Mimi, and mother to the four Buoncristiani Brothers, was dubbed the official taster. Wines were not bottled until she gave the final “ok.”
Roberto made sure that all four of the Buoncristiani Brothers were involved with the entire winemaking process. His philosophy was simple; good wine is achieved through good viticultural practices. At a very young age the four brothers were taught the ways of the vineyard including how to prune vines and pick grapes. Riding the tractor on Dad’s lap, stomping barefoot on the “starter batch” of grapes, and tasting wine diluted with water were all fond childhood memories.
While the Buoncristiani Brothers grew up making wine, it was only a family hobby. In 1997 the brothers resurrected Roberto's old winemaking equipment and decided to try their hand at winemaking again. The resulting 1997 and 1998 vintages of wine they crafted were well received and so in 1999 after much discussion and a generous loan from their Zia (Aunt) Nella, the four Buoncristiani Brothers founded Buoncristiani Family Winery.