The Gianelli Story

It has been said that in some of the oldest wine-growing regions of Europe, a person can actually taste the story of a vineyard with each sip they take. At Gianelli Vineyards & Winery, their wines capture that same essence of place and tradition. The history of the Gianelli family, the land, and even their winemaking practices are part of a legacy that stretches back through countless generations.

The story truly begins with Giovani Rocca, who married into the Gianelli family in the late 1800’s. After his marriage, Giovani purchased a large amount of acreage just outside Jamestown – land which today is used in part for the Gianelli vineyards. In Giovani’s day his property was the site for a working cattle ranch, gold mining camp, and was a major stagecoach stop for supplies coming into Jamestown. Giovani was quite a character, and was even reported to give food and aid to the infamous Joaquin Murrieta when he’d pass through town.

With each new generation, the land was worked and cherished, becoming an extension of the family and a testament to the commitment and love for the area. In 1980 Ron Gianelli purchased the property from his grand-aunt Edna Collard. Having grown up in an agricultural family, Ron always knew that he would one day return to farming and to his family’s roots in Jamestown. He had realized half of the dream, and planted the foundation for the future 93 acre vineyard.

With strong ties to their family’s homeland of Liguira, Italy, the Gianelli’s were regularly traveling back and forth in order to find inspiration and advisement on how they should farm their property. It was during one of these many trips when Ron and Lorie decided they wanted to carry on the winemaking techniques and vineyard stewardship that the Italians had practiced for thousands of years. Everything about the Foothill appellation seemed to mimic that of Italy. There was a sample of their Jamestown soil sent off to a laboratory in Italy which was returned with the simple note: “mirrors that of Tuscany.” With each successive trip to Italy, the Gianelli’s learned more and more about the varietals that would suit their area, methods, equipment, winemaking practices and the history of Italian wine. Early on in the planning it was known that the winery’s theme would feature old world wines that were true to the Italian style and experience.

Having decided to do something wholly unique in not only the community, but the Californian winemaking industry as a whole, the Gianelli’s created a piece of Italy in their own back yard. Nothing was done half-heartedly. Every piece of equipment, from the fermentation tanks to the smallest filtration units were purchased in Italy. All of the obscure rootstock varietals that Ron had fallen in love with in Tuscany were sourced from a company who had special ties to a vineyard in Verona, Italy. Down to the smallest detail the small Italian operation in the heart of Jamestown California began to take root.

Mr. Steve Cullum, a well known vineyard consultant and manager in the Sierra Foothills was employed to assist in planting. Steve’s knowledge of the region was encyclopedic, and his reputation for using uncommon old world varietals in many of his vineyards was exactly what the Gianelli’s were looking for. With his help the terroir was mapped, deciding exactly which varietals would suit their property and how Italian methods and design would be utilized. In 2003 the first vineyards were planted, and today Gianelli Vineyards boasts a total of 18 different estate grown varietals. From Vermentino to Fiano, Primitivo to Agliancio, the vineyard has varietals that are not only uncommon in the United States, but some have never been produced before outside of Italy.

Gianelli Vineyards & Winery not only stands as a testament to the past, but also as a wonderful example of the successful balance that can be achieved between old world traditions and modern day innovation. As the winery and vineyards continue to thrive, the hope is to educate fellow vintners and the public about the wonderful, expressive character of Italian varietals grown here in the Sierra Foothills.


Cody LaPertche

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Cody LaPertche, Winemaker for Gianelli Vineyards is a native of Jamestown, CA and graduated from Sonora High School and Columbia College. LaPertche has been with Gianelli Vineyards since February 2011, working in the vineyard and cellar while apprenticing under Chuck Hovey. He works with a passion and has taken our reins in his able hands.

“I have always loved the area and am grateful that I found Gianelli Vineyards and didn’t have to move away for a career. It really fell into my lap, and I couldn’t be happier! I had trained with Chuck for 4 years in the cellar and he taught me how to be true to the varietal. I looked at Chuck as a father figure. He showed me how to do everything from the ground up and why it needed to be done. Hovey taught me the difference between winemaking that wins awards and winemaking that sells. I have found a happy medium working with smaller lots, allowing the blending options to develop our stylistic winemaking.”


Christian LaPertche

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Christian LaPertche is an extremely hard worker who oversees and coordinates all of the various farming activities at Gianelli. He uses his knowledge of viticulture to make decisions regarding pruning, irrigation management, chemical applications, disease and pest control, and most important harvest. Christian also assists in supervising field crews, assuring proper procedures and quality of work, Our harvests have proven to be very healthy and impressive under Christian’s care. We are grateful to have him on board!

Gianelli Awards


                                                          2020 San Francisco International Wine Competition

2018 Montepulciano ~ GOLD

2018 Barbera ~ SILVER

2019 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

2018 Vermentino – Silver

2018 Malvasia Bianca – Silver

2016 Nino Reserve – Bronze

2018 Grenache Rose’ – Bronze

2019 San Francisco International Wine Competition

2018 Malvasia Bianca – GOLD

2016 Montepulciano – Silver

2019 Sunset International Wine Competition (October 2019 issue)

2016 Grenache – SILVER

2017 Pinot Grigio – SILVER

2019 Sierra Lodestar Best Of the Motherlode

Voted 2019 Best Local Wine – Gianelli Vineyards

Voted 2019 Best Vineyard – Gianelli Vineyards

2019 Orange County Wine Competition

2016 Montepulciano – Silver

2018 Vermentino – Silver

2016 Grenache – Bronze

2019 California State Fair

2016 Montepulciano – GOLD (95 Points)

2016 Pinot Grigio – Silver

2018 Vermentino – Silver

2019 El Dorado County Wine Competition

2017 Pinot Grigio – Silver

2018 Vermentino – Silver

2016 Montepulciano – Bronze

2016 Grenache – Bronze

2019 Amador County Wine Competition

2016 Pinot Grigio – Silver

2012 Sangiovese Grosso – Silver

2019 Calaveras County Wine Competition

2017 Pinot Grigio – GOLD

2016 Montepulciano – Silver

2016 Pinot Grigio – Bronze

2012 Nebbiolo – Bronze

2019 San Francisco Chronicle

2012 Nebbiolo – Bronze

2018 San Francisco International Wine Competition

2011 Dolcetto – Silver

2017 Vermentino – Bronze

2018 California State Fair

2014 Montepulciano Reserva – Silver

Union Democrat

Voted 2018 Best Local Wine

2017 Tuolumne County Fair

2014 Barbera – Gold

2016 Vermentino – Gold

2014 Nino – Silver

2017 Amador County Fair

2015 Fiano – Bronze

2014 Barbera – Silver

2014 Bella Rosato – Silver

2014 Nino – Gold

2017 El Dorado County Fair

2014 Barbera – Bronze

2016 Vermentino – Bronze

2014 Nino – Silver

2017 Calaveras County Fair

2016 Vermentino – Gold

2015 Fiano – Gold

2012 Aglianico – Silver

2017 California State Fair

2015 Fiano – Double Gold

2017 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

2012 La Porta Del Paradisio – Silver

2012 Montepulciano Reserva – Bronze

2012 Nino – Double Gold