A small boutique winery operated by an American with an Italian ancestral influence

Charter Oak- A small boutique winery

“My grandfather, Guido Ragghianti, an Italian immigrant, taught me how to make wine as a little boy.
I follow all of the old world winemaking techniques handed down by him,
using his old tools and a 100-year old basket press.”

Robert M. Fanucci, Owner and Winemaker


How It all Began: Robert first remembers his Grandfather always being in the fields and vineyards surround his home in St. Helena on the Charter Oaks Avenue picking and crushing grapes. His first memory of the wine process was  watching grapes being crushed and placed in  a large wooden fermentation tank Being mesmerized by the color, smell, and taste of the crushed grapes. He used to put his finger in the sticky mixture and licked the grape juice. Also his grandfather would always bring him sweet wine to try for his birthday but only a sip seeing that he was a little boy.  His grandfather also made grappa on their vineyard and he also would grow prunes and soak them in grappa to create brandied prunes.

At a young age Robert would help his grandfather with picking and crushing grapes but it wasn’t until he lost his job in 1986 that he learn the entire wine making process form start to finish from his grandfather.After his grandfather’s death he inherited  all of his grandfather’s tools and wine making equipment  including a 100 year old press, barrels,  funnels, a hand grape crusher, 5 gallon containers, glass containers  siphoning houses, wooden bungs etc.

Still today Charter Oak wine is unfined and unfiltered. The grapes are fermented on natural yeast. He uses tools crafted by his grandfather to punch down the cap three times a day and then works the must into a foaming lather. Robert claims that no one make wine this way. He believe that the secret is the natural fermentation  and the punch down of the cap with hand made wooden tools. After three to four weeks in the fermentation tank the separation between the skins and the juice takes place. This is completed with by utilizing the 100 year old basket press. Then wine is then put into barrels. Robert remarks that this is not the most efficient way to make wine but he is proud to produce with this way because he is proud to carry  out his grandfather’s tradition. He guarantees that everything is hand crafted and that consumers will truly taste the difference!

Charter Oaks prides itself on being a  a small boutique producer of one of the most exceptional California Zinfandels while carrying out Guido Ragghianti’s legacy.

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