Meet the Team Behind V. Sattui Winery
Dario is the visionary entrepreneur behind V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, and Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga.
Dario was born in San Francisco in 1941 and raised in San Francisco and Marin County. His great-grandfather Vittorio Sattui, an Italian immigrant, founded V. Sattui Winery in 1885 in San Francisco. As Vittorio lived to be 94 years old, Dario got to know him and was fascinated by his stories and photos of the old winery, above which the Sattui family continued to live even after Prohibition had shut it down. As a child, Dario would play among the barrels and tanks in the underground cellars while dreaming of reviving the winery when he grew up.
He kept this dream alive as he furthered his education, receiving a B.S. in Accounting and Finance from San Jose State University in 1965 and then an M.B.A. from University of California, Berkeley, in 1969. In 1975 Dario opened V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, focusing on an unusual business model for the time—a winery with the feel of a small European village, offering picnic grounds and most importantly, a direct to consumer approach to sales. In the first year of operation, the business was profitable, and today V. Sattui Winery produces 50,000 cases of wine each year.
Dario Sattui is one of the Napa Valley’s most visible philanthropists. He is a significant supporter of Napa Valley Hospice, Hands Across the Valley, the Napa Valley Land Trust and the Boys & Girls Club of St. Helena and Calistoga. In the last 10 years, V. Sattui Winery has protected over 550 acres in the Napa Valley with Conservation Easements that restrict the development of land with homes and preserves hundreds of acres of vineyards, oak woodlands and grassland open space forever. He also has an active role with the Festival del Sole to help bring music to the area.
He was so committed to getting into the wine business, he slept in a tent at the State Park while searching for work.
Tom has always loved wine, and even hosted wine dinners with friends when he was in college. A native of Palm Springs, California, Tom Davies graduated from Chico State University in 1979 with a degree in Business Management. He was so committed to getting into the wine business, he slept in a tent at the State Park in the Napa Valley to save money while searching for work. Impressed with his attitude and enthusiasm, Dario Sattui hired him in the summer of 1980 at $5 an hour to work in V. Sattui Winery’s tasting room and cellar. Tom was among the first 10 employees hired at V. Sattui. His great business sense and knowledge of the wine industry propelled him to the top at V. Sattui. Tom is now President and Part-Owner of V. Sattui Winery.
Tom, his wife, Cara, and their daughter, Michaela have traveled extensively in Europe and have made Italy their favorite home away from the Napa Valley, spending time there every summer.
Brooks Painter has been called ‘the winemaker’s winemaker,’ because of his extensive expertise and prominence as a wine industry leader among his peers.
Brooks has been the Director of Winemaking at V. Sattui Winery since 2005 and is responsible for our portfolio of 60 different wines. He also manages V. Sattui’s viticultural and grape growing operations, supervising 300 acres of estate vineyards as well as relationships with outside growers. Brooks was named “Winemaker of the Year” at the 2013 San Francisco International Wine Competition, the largest, most influential international wine competition in America and again at the American Fine Wine Competition in 2015.
Born in San Francisco, Brooks grew up in northern California. He graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a double major in Chemistry and Biology. He went on to complete additional coursework and seminars in viticulture and winemaking.
Brooks and his wife Beth live in Napa and are active in local community, charity, and public planning issues in Napa Valley. Their two college-age children, Miles and Emily, are now enjoying the wine tasting and winery visits that used to bore them to tears! As a family, they enjoy traveling, skiing/snowboarding, sailing, hiking and cooking.
Growing up in a vineyard, Jason's passion for winemaking is practically in his blood.
Jason joined the V. Sattui family in 2015. He says the family atmosphere of our winery drew him in. He is also excited to help create the many varietals we produce at V. Sattui.
Jason grew up helping his parents farm 10 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes on the Sonoma side of the Los Carneros appellation. His family sold their grapes to Gloria Ferrer Winery, but they also kept a few for themselves. His extended family would gather to create their own wine in a fun, annual gathering.
“I saw how wine can bring people together,” says Jason. “It certainly did for my family.”
He went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree at the University of California Davis and interned at Gloria Ferrer, getting a chance to see inside the business that purchased his family’s grapes. After graduating he ventured to New Zealand and received hands-on experience working for Kim Crawford Winery. He returned to California Wine Country to Patz and Hall in Sonoma, and later became an enologist for Franciscan Winery in St. Helena.
“Growing up in a vineyard gave me a great foundation for science and chemistry. When I realized that the wine industry is the place where science and creativity meld, I knew it was the path for me.”
Peter joined V. Sattui and Castello di Amorosa in 2008 as Associate Winemaker, where his passion and drive have earned him the title of Winemaker.
Peter was born and raised in San Francisco where he and his two older brothers were the fifth generation of their family to be born in the City. He attended the University of California at Davis, where he took one class in the University’s renowned Food Science department, then quickly changed his major from Chemical Engineering to Fermentation Science. After intensive study in winemaking, brewing science, microbiology and food engineering, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Fermentation Science, the only student in the 2003 UC Davis graduation ceremony to receive such a degree.
After graduation, Velleno worked for William Hill Winery in their laboratory. He quickly worked his way up to the Assistant Winemaker position specializing in Chardonnay production. He then worked for the ultra-premium small winery Hartwell Vineyards, where he learned to craft some of the most highly regarded Cabernets in Napa Valley.
“Dario Sattui has a long history of recognizing and rewarding those employees who work with passion,” says Velleno. “Certainly becoming Winemaker was my aspiration for years, so my role brings a sense of personal achievement.”
The gentleman in charge of our 300 acres of vineyards is David Bejar, a man who embodies the American Dream.
Great wine begins with great grapes, and David Bejar is one of the best at ensuring our grapes are top quality.
Born in the Mexican state of Michaocán, he moved to Ensenada in Baja, California when he was eleven after the death of his father. He got a job pruning vineyards for a local winery there and a year later began picking grapes as well. At the age of fifteen David followed his older brother and immigrated to the United States, settling in Santa Rosa, where he began working in Sonoma County vineyards.
David’s work ethic, dedication, and devotion to his job helped him quickly work his way up and by the time he was twenty-four, he was a vineyard foreman for Domaine Chandon. He went on to work for a vineyard management company before coming to V. Sattui as Assistant Vineyard Manager. In short order, he worked his way to Vineyard Manager.
Today, David oversees our vineyards and the work that happens there. His farming experience, great attitude, work ethic, and leadership skills are key to V. Sattui Winery’s success.
Chef Gerardo wants every guest at V. Sattui Winery to literally experience a taste of Napa Valley by pairing our wines with the fresh, local food he and his staff create daily in our Artisan Deli.
Gerardo Sainato (pronounced “say-NOT-oh”) was born in Sapri, Italy, a small town on the southernmost tip of Campania, where he grew up with the fruits of the ‘farm to table’ Mediterranean tradition. Gerardo continues this tradition as Executive Chef at V. Sattui Winery where he and his team create fresh foods daily in our Italian Marketplace and Artisan Deli. He also oversees the menu for our Weekend BBQs.
Before coming to V. Sattui in 2006, Gerardo graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Rome, then began his culinary career as a chef at the prestigious and historic Ristorante Celestina in Rome’s Parioli district. He went on to become the Executive Chef at the Hotel Fenix in Rome, recognized for its traditional Roman and Mediterranean dishes.
In 1998 Gerardo moved to Napa Valley to become a chef at The Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone Restaurant. Over the course of his time at the CIA he worked with chefs that included Joyce Goldstein, Robert Curry, Todd Humphries, Pilar Sanchez and Polly Lappetito.
Gerardo and his wife, Judith, have three children and live in St. Helena.
Stefano's culinary knowledge combined with his Italian charm makes the meal he created for you taste like it was made by your new Italian best friend.
Michelin-star chef Stefano Masanti is the founder and visionary of one of northern Italy’s most beloved restaurants, Il Cantinone. Stefano is the Executive Chef and his accomplished wife, Raffaella, a professional sommelier, greets guests in the restaurant located in the small ski-village of Madesimo, in the Italian Alps. Stefano and Raffaella spend their off-season at V. Sattui extending their warm hospitality and creating culinary magic for group events and weddings at the winery. He also oversees our in-house Salumeria and our house-made gelatos.
Known for his infectious smile, sharp wit, strong work ethic, and his culinary prowess, Masanti has forged an adventurous career that has spanned both Europe and the U.S.
Born in Milan in 1970, Stefano Masanti grew up in the Lombardian resort town of Madesimo, where he recalls his first day in the kitchen, at just 5 years old, helping his grandfather churn vanilla gelato for the family business, Hotel Andossi. He received his B.A. degree in hospitality at the Hotel Institute Crotto Caurga Chiavenna, followed by three years at the University of Milan, where he majored in public relations. Additional professional development includes time in France’s Ecole Lenotre, Alain Ducasse’s culinary school, Ducasse Education, and the culinary institute in Brescia, Italy.
Chef Masanti is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals; he has helped launch a number of restaurants and hotels in Poland; and for years he successfully managed Il Cantinone, the highly acclaimed, Michelin-star restaurant adjacent to his family’s hotel in Madesimo. An accomplished master of charcuterie, Masanti was named “Craftsman of the Year” in all of Italy by the 2009 Identità Golose for best Valchiavenna bresaola.
One of the earliest proponents of the Slow Food movement, Chef Masanti believes in the value of preserving and protecting regional food traditions from around the world.
Born in Santa Barbara, CA Joe Schneider was immediately influenced by the bounty of local produce and foods available in California. As the oldest boy of seven children, meal planning was a necessity and often consisted of creative menus built solely on fridge leftovers.
At age 15, Joe discovered cooking in professional kitchen and after his first kitchen management position at age 16, he yielded to his calling and resolved he would not be taking over his father’s business as a mechanical engineer working on Porsches. Joe moved to San Francisco to attend The California Culinary Academy a year after high school which offered him an externship at Domaine Chandon. Following graduation, he moved to the Napa Valley to further submerse himself in the world of wine and food while working at Silverado Country Club.
After four years in Wine Country, Joe returned to Santa Barbara to enjoy time with his younger siblings. He found a culinary home at a French Italian Bistro, called Brigettas, where he was challenged to develop unique nightly menus. His personal culinary studies continued and he found himself gravitating towards Caribbean spices and introduced them to the bistro menu. Then owner, a German master chef, was initially concerned about the introduction of the spicy, tropical flavors to the classic menu, but quickly agreed Joe should continue after sampling his dinner creations.
The yearning to learn more about Caribbean cuisine drew Joe to Key West, FL to work at Louie’s Backyard where he delved even deeper into fresh Caribbean flavors. He stayed in the Keys for two years before missing the mountains, so brought the tropics back with him and opened a Caribbean Restaurant and Rum Bar in Boulder, Colorado. His restaurant, Rhumba, boasted the largest patio at the Pearl Street Mall and offered rum and food pairings along with wine and food pairings. “Special” night menus featured culturally-influenced foods from Brazil and Puerto Rico that alternated as themes with various musical talents. 60% of his restaurant’s menu changed seasonally.
After 10 successful years, Joe sold his restaurant to entertain various interests including yoga, travel, and scuba diving during which he also managed a Whole Foods and a Bakery. His culinary calling soon found him returning to the culinary mecca of the Napa Valley and the lure of V. Sattui Winery. Joe now oversees the Winery’s Wine & Food programs, develops pairings and elevated experiences, and works closely with Sattui’s Special Events and Marketplace chefs.
What does Joe love most about V. Sattui Winery?
The breadth of opportunity within the vast wine and food programs along with the close-knit family atmosphere.
What does V. Sattui love most about Joe Schneider?
His refreshingly clear and creative perspective on how to enhance the guest experience and his fun-loving nature.