Thursday, June 14, 2007

Italy comes to Sonoma

"Quality above all else, tradition and family history will always prevail" This is a quote from VJB Vineyard & Cellars co-founder Victor J. Belmonte, Jr. and it is the basis of the family business the he founded with his brother Henry in the spring of 1999.

This may have been the beginning of the VJB winery but the true origins go back a little further to the end of the last century and can be traced all the way back to their parents who grew up in Bonito, Italy. Vittorio and Maria Belmonte, the boy parents, spent their youth in a small town southeast of Naples. This is where Vittorio learned the art of wine making as a small boy helping his older brother and his father in the family vineyards. Maria learned to cook at a very early age and created her legacy on perfecting traditional family recipes with her mother. In 1963 they moved to the United States where they made their home in Winthrop, MA. Thirteen years later in 1976, now with two small boys in tow, they decided to move to the beautiful hills of Sonoma Valley because it mirrored their homelands in Italy.

It was here in Sonoma were they became inspired to combine their two talents, food and wine. In 1999, after two successful restaurants and finally settling in Kenwood, CA the two sons, Henry and Victor, began making family labeled wines to serve at their own restaurant. With the unexpected passing of young Victor in 2000, the family designed their label in honor of him, displaying his initials (VJB). The family sold the restaurant and directed their energy towards their vineyard and winemaking. Today VJB is producing several Italian varieties which can be purchased at their tasting room, online or via their wine club. For those who join the wine club, you will not only receive excellent wine but also, recipes for food pairings prepared by the Executive Chef for the family winery, Maria Belmonte, who just published her first book Cucinare Con Amore (Cook with Love).

Their business started with family traditions and is still showing the same values today. The pride in their wines and the love of Victor in their hearts can be found in each glass of VJB wine.


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