About The Saini Family

Photo - Mike & John Saini, George Christie
Left to Right: Mike Saini, John Saini, and George Christie

Saini Vineyards

Saini Vineyards is a story of two families, of partnerships and of friends between the Saini and the Christie families.

The Sainis are 4th generation Sonoma County grape growers that have been farming grapes in Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley for over 90 years. Renowned for their integrity, attention to detail and impeccable farming skills, it's their passion for quality coupled with their experience and familiarity with the land they farm that sets them apart from the rest.

Their legacy began in 1908, when Great Grandfather Micele Saini came to the United States from Genova, Italy.  He bought a farm in the Dry Creek Valley in 1917. While continuing to ride a horse and buggy to work in San Francisco as a garbage man, the farm produced such crops as pears, apples, prunes, and winegrapes. Wanting to enjoy the fruits of his labor, Micele became very skillful making wine in his basement that was good enough to be sold in San Francisco. Keeping in tradition, second generation Grandfather Eugene “Si” Saini partnered with his cousin Gene Cuneo (both their fathers were also partners), and bought a second ranch in the Alexander Valley in 1934. With impeccable farming skills, they built a solid reputation as grape growers, selling to some of the best wineries in Sonoma County.

Si passed all of his knowledge onto his son John, who would carry the family business into the 3rd generation. Saini Farms was created in 1984 with 300 acres of vineyards coupled with decades of experience that would set them apart from the rest.  It was John’s son Mike that dreamed of creating a wine brand of their own to showcase their most prized and recognized blocks which would propel them to a whole new level. In 2008, Mike recruited top winemakers and partnered with George Christie to be his Managing Partner.

George Christie was born and raised in New Jersey and moved to Sonoma County in 1991 where he met his wife Tami, a lifelong resident of Healdsburg. They have been a part of the wine industry ever since and have worked with some of the most iconic wineries in California, such as Korbel, Buena Vista, Kenwood and Clos du Bois.

George Christie and Mike Saini have been friends for nearly 20 years. Many times over the years they talked about starting a wine brand of their own and in the Fall of 2008 those conversations became a reality with the harvest of their first grapes destined for the Saini Vineyards program. The 4th generation of Saini Vineyards was the perfect collaboration of talent and timing with their first release of Zinfandel in 2008. In addition to Zinfandel, they now also produce small lots of Grenache and Sauvignon Blanc.

Mike didn’t realize that 2008 would symbolize more than the beginning of a new wine venture. He would also meet Laura, the love of his life. Laura quickly became part of the family business, taking on the role of Sales Manager. In 2012 and Mike and Laura welcomed their son Angelo into the world. Will Angelo become the 5th generation to carry on the family business? We hope so! It seems to run in the blood and why stop after 90 years?

Partnerships have been an integral part of the success for both the Saini and Christie families and the Saini Vineyards' wines are the next chapter in their story.

Our Winemaker

Photo - Julia Iantosca
Julia Iantosca

Julia Iantosca has over 35 years of winemaking experience in small premium wineries. She enjoys working with many varieties and the challenges that each variety holds. Most of her career has been spent in Sonoma County. Her affection for this region began during a student internship at Dry Creek Vineyards.

Upon graduation from UC Davis with a BS in Fermentation Science, Julia joined Stevenot Vineyards in Calaveras County as Co-Winemaker with winery owner Bardon Stevenot.

After two years at Stevenot Vineyards, Julia returned to Sonoma County as Winemaker for William Wheeler Winery in Healdsburg. Throughout her eleven years at Wheeler, she collaborated with Vineyard Manager Duff Bevill to enhance wine quality through meticulous vineyard practices. During this time she also served as an officer in the Sonoma Wine Technical Group and as a member of the California Enological Research Association (CERA).

Lambert Bridge Winery offered new winemaking opportunities and the chance to work with Consulting Winemaker Merry Edwards. Merry inspired Julia’s love of the art of blending wines and her exacting pursuit of excellence. Together they selected clones and rootstock to plant and replant several newly acquired vineyards. Julia served as Winery Manager and Winemaker the last four years of her twelve years at Lambert Bridge. She also was a member of the board for the Sonoma County Vintner’s Coop for seven years, including two years as board president.

Lasseter Family Winery in Glen Ellen offered a new challenge. For eleven years Julia help the Lasseter’s build a new winery, create a unique portfolio of wines, and develop several new vineyards.

Currently Julia is working as a Consulting Winemaker, able to offer clients the benefit of her many years of winemaking and wine industry experience. Some of her previous clients include Hamel Family Wines, Leveroni Vineyards, Paint Horse Winery and Tolay Springs Winery.

Julia lives in Bennett Valley on a small Pinot Noir Vineyard with her husband Bob Iantosca (Winemaker Emeritus for Gloria Ferrer Caves). They have two daughters.