Most people who drive along Arnold Drive near Watmaugh Road may be on their way home or heading to the strawberry stand. Some of us have noticed plowed fields, metal stakes stuck in the ground and a clear delineation of the strawberry patch’s growing area.
What’s going on?
Sam Sebastiani, enjoying a new life and future at 77, has taken over land owned by his family since the 1970s and is converting about 60 acres from hay production to pinot noir grapes. He has dedicated 20 acres to the Watmaugh strawberry patch, and five acres to what he is calling the “Bird Nest Sanctuary” on this precious Carneros region land.
Following the tradition of his father August Sebastiani, Sam maintained a bird sanctuary at Viansa Winery, which he founded with then-wife Vicki Sebastiani. His new Bird Nest will have bird boxes, perches and a water source to encourage bird habitation, especially for big black birds.
The vineyard will be called “Le Gemelle,” meaning “the twins,” and referring to son Christopher and Robyn Sebastiani’s twins, Reagan and Harper, Sam’s grandchildren. Because of Sonoma Valley’s strangely cool weather and late rains after the fires, La Prenda Vineyard Management is planting at great pace and already has the irrigation system in. (Incidentally, vineyard irrigation is illegal in France.)
Longtime Sonoma Valley grower and owner of La Prenda, Ned Hill, is excited to work on Le Gemelle vineyard, sure that it will produce “fantastic pinot noir” for Sam’s La Chertosa brand.
La Chertosa, which Sam founded in 2007 with design help from Patti Britton, has instantly won loads of gold and double gold medals and has been named a “Hot Brand” by Wine Business Monthly for its Old World Italian varietals. La Chertosa is the 14th-century monastery in Farneta, Italy, where Sam’s grandfather, Samuele, first learned to make wine.