Sonoma patriarch Pete Seghesio has died aged 85 after a long illness.
Eugene Pio Seghesio – known universally as Pete – was the son of first-generation Italian immigrants Angela and Eduardo Seghesio, the founders of Seghesio Family Vineyards in Alexander Valley, Sonoma.
He joined the family winery in 1941 before fighting in the Second World War, and returned to start the process that would see the winery transformed from bulk producer to one of the best-known estates in California and one of the world’s premium producers of Zinfandel.
Seghesio was a triple award winner at this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards – taking the coveted International Red Italian Varietal Trophy for its Sangiovese 2001, the Regional North America Red Single Varietal Trophy for the old Vine Zinfandel 2002, and a Silver medal for the Zinfandel 2002.
Pete Seghesio’s wine career spanned six decades. He was president of the company from 1965 to 1995, and was a director of the California Wine Institute from 1948 until 1972.
His son Pete Seghesio Jr – who described his father as ‘a tough son of a gun’ – said his first love was Zinfandel, which he called ‘the boss grape.’
According to Pete Jr, Seghesio was at first shocked by radical new ideas pioneered by the third generation of the family, such as cutting yields and investing in new equipment, which eventually turned the winery into the award-winning premium producer it is today.
Seghesio leaves Rachel Ann, his wife of 48 years, his son Pete, daughter Amy Camille Seghesio, and two grandsons.
Written by Adam Lechmere