Photo Credit: Julia Perez
Stephanie Terrizzi is a viticulturist with years of experience and training, who focuses on sustainable farming and building healthy soil in the vineyards. She is known for planting Nebbiolo, Trebbiano, Sangiovese, Friulano and Ribolla Gialla that thrive in San Luis Obispo County. She has developed close relationships with growers who plant Italian varieties to source their grapes for the family owned winery, Giornata Wines, in Tin City. She travels to Italy regularly to study Italian varieties and wines. Stephanie and her husband have been invited to pour Giornata wines in Italy for the Italian Press and at important Nebbiolo Events.
Stephanie’s research on Italian grape varieties is legendary. She consults and mentors other local growers and teaches classes. Her work ethic and boundless energy are an inspiration to all who know her.
She is co-founder of three business enterprises with her husband winemaker and entrepreneur Brian Terrizzi: Broadside Winery, Giornata Wines, and Etto Pastificio, the Italian Market and pasta company. All are located in San Luis Obispo County. The family’s generosity in providing donations of Etto pasta to local charities and their support of the school lunch programs to provide healthy meals for children from Templeton to San Luis Obispo has been important in providing food security during the recent Pandemic. Twenty thousand servings of pasta have been donated.
Impact on Wine History of San Luis Obispo County
- Knowledge of viticulture and vineyard management paired with high standards and a vigorous work ethic that sets a high bar for all those she works with and mentors.
- Expertise and experience in maintaining the health of soil and defining geology in the vineyard.
- Leadership in regenerative farming, protecting the land and water from pollution to achieve a balance and harmony in the vineyard.
- Enhances her ongoing research with travels to Italy to build her knowledge on farming Italian grape varieties in specific regions of Italy.
- Successfully growing high quality Italian grape varieties in multiple vineyards in the Paso Robles AVA.
- Research on multiple clones of Nebbiolo (FPS Clones 6 and 8, VCR Clone 430)
- Planting an Estate Vineyard of Italian grape varieties in the Paso Robles AVA including Nebbiolo, Trebbiano, Sangiovese, Fruilano and Ribolla Gialla.
- Founding member of Broadside Winery, a large producer of wine.
- Founding member of Giornata Winery, a small boutique winery focusing on high quality handcrafted Italian varietals, located in Tin City.
- Founding member of Etto Pastificio an Italian market and pasta factory focusing on the authenticity of healthy Italian foods.
- Providing continuing education for colleagues and community members on sustainable farming practices.
- Raising twin daughters who love their land and participate wholeheartedly in the family enterprises.
Brian and Stephanie’s Wedding 2005
Brian, Stephanie, Aida and Kate
A Healthy Beginning
Stephanie grew up in Freeport, Illinois surrounded by farmland and herds of cows. She was a member of the 4H Club where she learned to milk cows, rope cattle and respect the land. From early childhood she was interested in science and math. And it’s no wonder. Her mother, Carol Sorn, was a registered optometric assistant and her father worked as a design engineer. Ronald Sorn designed the switches for thermostats and later worked on developing security electric fencing for gated communities across the country. Her parents had an extensive vegetable garden which fed the family. Her father, who loved to fish, provided the skeletons from his latest catch to fertilize their crops – perhaps Stephanie’s earliest lesson in soil nutrition. Stephanie enjoyed eating her vegetables (except cauliflower), all grown in a naturally organic garden. Wine was not served in their home. Her father was a missionary and a teetotaler. He never touched a drop of alcohol in his life and her mother rarely had a glass of wine.
Stephanie was an avid student excelling in math and science. After high school, she continued her education at several community colleges, and later transferred to the University of Wisconsin, studying biochemistry, to complete her degree. She financed her own education with a series of jobs working in restaurants and bars where she first encountered wines that stimulated her taste buds and her curiosity. Stephanie toyed with applying to medical school but a conversation with a mentor discouraged her because of the high cost of eight more years of education. Here is the moment that changed her life. Her mentor asked her “the question” she had never considered; her mentor guided her to a new path forward by asking her to identify the thing she hated the most in the world – to which she replied, “Chicago snow and freezing cold weather.”
California, Here I Come
So in 1998, Stephanie packed her car and drove to California in search of sunshine and a new career with her dog as her companion. When she arrived in the Bay area in July, San Francisco was freezing so she decided to join a friend in the warmth of Santa Rosa, a small agricultural community in Sonoma County. In addition to warm weather, Santa Rosa had a vibrant food and wine community which welcomed her and would educate her over the next four years.
Stephanie has an amazing work ethic – she describes herself as the kind of person who can work seven days a week without rest and still maintain the highest ethical standards. She worked multiple jobs in Santa Rosa. The first was at the Third Street Aleworks, a large brew pub famous for crafting award-winning beer and serving fine food. The chef and his wife, a remarkable pastry chef, became close friends and valuable mentors to Stephanie. They recommended her to Michael Hirschberg, the owner of Mistral Bar and Restaurant in Redwood City. Stephanie was hired as the bartender and soon started her education about fine dining and the local wines. She met with wine reps, tasting and discussing a variety of wines. One of her mentors is Dan Kosta who is the co-founder of Kosta Browne, famous for Pinot Noir. He introduced her to influential people in the wine industry that have provided support over the years.
To expand her knowledge about California wines, Stephanie enrolled in classes at the Santa Rosa Community College. She often found herself sitting next to the teacher of Wine Appreciation Class who also worked at a local winery. As they focused on color and aroma before tasting the wines, Ron often looked at Stephanie’s notes on the tasting sheets and noted her thoughtful and scientific observations. Stephanie had an extensive chemistry background but she also is very intuitive. One such observation she made, “What I love about wine is when you smell the aroma, it evokes a memory of a person or a place or a meal.” What her teacher also noticed was her deep understanding of chemical compounds. Ron suggested she study to become a sommelier. Instead Stephanie developed wine programs for two restaurants, Ca’ Bianca and Sassafras. She became more interested in the grape varieties and the local vineyards
Moving on from Wine to Grapes in the Vineyard
Next, Stephanie enrolled in a Viticulture Class at the local Santa Rosa Community College – the only class related to the wine industry that semester. She spent three weeks in the classroom and the rest of the year working in vineyards. Her most valuable textbook was the famous California Thomas Guide, a large book of detailed California maps showing the route to local vineyards. Her first reaction was, “Oh my God! What did I get myself into?” However, the instructor was excellent. In focusing on a “hands on” approach to learning viticulture. Each week the class met at a different vineyard, often owned by a fellow student. Many of these students had not grown up in the wine industry, but had visited Sonoma County, gotten drunk and purchased a piece of property with vines on it according to Sonoma County legends. So each class was spent analyzing the specific vineyard, discussing what worked and what didn’t. The class spent time in the vineyard learning how to approach the challenges and how to solve them. Stephanie enjoyed her education and earned a Certificate in Viticulture.
There was also a farm with a vineyard associated with Santa Rosa Community College. The vineyard manager, Leonard, focused on organic farming. One of Stephanie’s vivid memories is of the chicken tractor that Leonard designed which was crazy and fun. The chickens were transported into the vineyard to wander during the day and eat bugs and pests. At night they pooped and fertilized. Leonard demonstrated how to integrate ideas and animals to build the soil and the health of the vineyard. It is now known as “regenerative farming.” Stephanie began learning the valuable skills that highlight her career as a viticulturist.
Fresno State, Farming, Sustainability and a New Career
One of her fellow students, an older man who had retired from Clorox before he enthusiastically purchased his own plot of land with vines, recognized Stephanie’s passion for the vineyard work. She was working for him in his Sonoma County vineyard in exchange for a place to live. He and other friends encouraged her to continue her education in a Masters’ Program majoring in viticulture at Fresno State or at UC Davis. Stephanie was excited by both schools but Fresno State seemed perfect. The vineyard was located just outside the doors to the winery.
In 2002 she enrolled at Fresno State; it felt like a place where she could roll up sleeves and get her hands dirty. Becoming a winemaker was never her interest, it was all about farming the vineyards sustainably. However, Stephanie soon noted the divide between the Viticulture and the Enology students. In Europe there is no such divide because all wine making starts with grapes grown in the vineyard. Fresno State faculty encouraged students to join both the Viticulture Club and the Enology Society. Stephanie joined both organizations and like many other students focused on the process of creating wine, starting by planting and working in the vineyards and tasting the end result in the bottle. The two societies promoted education, discussion, tastings, and hands-on projects to bring students together.
Academically speaking, Stephanie spent much of her time in the plant science building and in the vineyards. She also studied Entomology and Ornamental Horticulture. Stephanie was inspired by the one particular professor who focused on Sustainable Agriculture, which at the time was not a focus of the viticulture program. This method of alternative farming inspired a group of students to found a new organization, the SERA (Students for Environmentally Responsible Agriculture). The members wanted to farm their own plot of land to grow vegetables and vines using all the practices they were learning about. Stephanie learned to write grants to finance this important educational project, securing a plot of land to farm as a group. A large part of the funding came from the Ernest and Julio Gallo family who were known for conventional farming but recognized the potential in this project.
Stephanie describes this plot of land as a major educational force for her. It taught her how to farm sustainably. Many individuals and local farmers were invited to present their own sustainable farming methods to the students. They learned about everything from using compost teas and pellets for soil health (on the lighter side), to how to remove weeds. We laughed about her description of a man appearing with a flaming torch attached to his Ghostbusters backpack, filled with propane. He demonstrated how to use the torch to remove the weeds quickly and efficiently, unfortunately burning all the new seedlings that the group had just planted. There was great excitement as the students watched their crops grow without chemicals. The crops were healthy, delicious and life changing in providing insight into farming sustainably.
Another “aha moment” occurred when Stephanie realized that successful farming involves creativity. Farming is a complex process which involves making small changes following the process of gathering ideas, listening to a variety of opinions and experiences, brainstorming with others and experimenting in the vineyard. Nature evolves and changes, presenting new challenges each season. The successful farmer is constantly developing creative methods to deal with the challenges.
Today, Stephanie describes farming as a creative endeavor and also stresses that farming involves assessing risk. It is essential in dealing with climate change. Risk management leads to good vineyard management. She has become an invaluable resource and a leader in viticulture in Paso Robles.
Multiple Introductions to the same stranger
In 2004 Fresno State developed a program that encouraged the older students to welcome and interact with new Enology and Viticulture students. Stephanie describes introducing herself on three occasions to incoming student Brian Terrizzi – first in the vineyard when the weather topped 100 degrees and he was wearing a torn tank top, sunglasses and sweating profusely. A second meeting with this stranger occurred a few days later when he was wearing a button down shirt, his hair was combed and he was wearing glasses. At the third meeting, the stranger was wearing a T-shirt but not glasses. He seemed upset about her lack of recognition when he pointed out that she had introduced herself three times in the past few days. Stephanie pegged him as a grumpy guy.
The next encounter came when they shared an assignment at the Enology Society to reach out to alumni in the wine industry to ask for donations of four bottles of identical wine for their members to taste and evaluate each Thursday evening. They soon became good friends and study partners in biochemistry. When studying for the final exam together, Brian surprised her by cooking an Italian dinner and serving a bottle of wine. Everything changed, they discovered their mutual love for all things Italian and for one another. They were soon engaged and planning their first trip together to Italy in January 2005. They both wanted to move to Italy and never return.
2005 – Two Graduations, Two Daughters, and A Focus on Italian Varieties
As Stephanie prepared for graduation and a new career, she discovered that she was pregnant with twins. Dreams of moving to Italy were suddenly upended. They revised their plans and decided that the perfect pairing would be Stephanie growing Italian grape varieties in California and Brian making wine from these grapes at their own winery. Brian had traveled to Italy, learned the language, and studied Italian winemaking as an intern for a major producer, Paolo DeMarchi, in Tuscany before he enrolled at Fresno State. As the year progressed, Stephanie graduated in June of 2005 with a degree in Viticulture and Brian in December 2005 with a degree in Enology. Their twin daughters were born on November 17, 2005 in Fresno.
By the end of December, Brian and Stephanie were already looking for land to plant a vineyard somewhere in California. Land in Napa and Sonoma in Northern California was too expensive. So they looked to the south to see what regions might be suitable for Italian grape varieties. Stephanie describes Brian as the entrepreneur, the idea man, the dreamer and characterizes her role as the person who works hard to implement their plans. Brian had been told many times that his dream to grow Italian grape varieties in California and make outstanding wine would be difficult and unlikely to succeed. But undaunted, Stephanie began the research to find the best Nebbiolo grapes in California to produce their future flagship wine.
While they were still students at Fresno State, Stephanie started searching for the recent clones of Nebbiolo that had been released in the late 1990s and early 2000s. She found them at the Novavine Nursery in Santa Rosa. She was familiar with the nursery because she had visited on field trips while taking wine classes in Santa Rosa before she met Brian. Novavine established a partnership with the world’s largest and most respected vineyard which is located north of Venice in Friuli, Italy in 1997. The name of the vineyard is Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo, commonly known as VCR. They are known for their super-premium inventory of VCR series of French and Italian grapevine clones and selections. Novavine has been able to bring VCR clones which were previously unavailable to the United States. This was an extraordinary discovery for Stephanie.
However, the response was surprising. Novavine Nursery had sold the vines to only four growers in California since new clones were established and made available. Stephanie tried contacting all four growers but only one responded to her voicemails. In that call, Stephanie described herself as a student from Fresno State who was interested in learning about new clones of Nebbiolo purchased at Novavine Nursery and planted in the owner’s vineyard. A woman called back, eager to meet with Stephanie and Brian at her vineyard in Paso Robles the following weekend. Stephanie was pregnant and working as a wine steward on the weekends so she declined but Brian and Stephanie’s knowledgeable friend Trey met with owners, John and Jody, who lived in Aptos. The outcome of the meeting was even more surprising. Trey, who had worked in viticulture in Switzerland, was excited about the vineyard and its unusual rock formations. He described it as “unlike any vineyard I have ever seen in California.”
Luna Matta Vineyard and the first harvest of Nebbiolo
Stephanie called to make an appointment to see the vineyard herself and during the conversation the owner mentioned that the Nebbiolo grapes were not sold. She offered Stephanie the opportunity to harvest them. Brian and Stephanie jumped at the opportunity. Stephanie and Trey arrived at the vineyard in one car, Brian and his friend Dave in the other, to pick two separate hillsides on which the Nebbiolo vines were growing. Stephanie tells the story that when she and Trey had harvested their entire hillside and filled her car with grapes, they were astonished to see that Brian and Dave had only harvested about five vines each. They were picking slowly as “winemakers”, not as “viticulturists”.
The Nebbiolo wine making took place in the shed behind their home. Every student with “the right living accommodations” had created a mini-winery in their own backyard. The student would build a shed, insulate it and buy an air conditioner for the window. Following harvest, classmates would gather together at the shed to de-stem and crush the grapes. Beer was provided for all and everyone helped. The previous year Brian had made Pinot Noir and Stephanie had made Cabernet Sauvignon, sourcing grapes from Lake County. The sheds were so small there was barely room for two barrels.
In the fall of 2005 Brian and Stephany pressed off the Nebbiolo in the shed and placed the juice in a barrel. The fermentation was weird, it smelled like SpaghettiOs in a can or perhaps rancid salami skins. There was not much color to the juice. Brian monitored it daily with tastings. He started dreaming about establishing his own winery, with the Italian name Giornata which translates to “a day’s work”.
Meeting the Challenge of Producing Nebbiolo
The challenge of producing Nebbiolo was daunting and seemed almost impossible. Stephanie’s main love was Nebbiolo. The first time she tasted it, she loved it as much as Guinness. She wasn’t sure she liked it, but she wanted more.
There are many expressions of Nebbiolo in Italy and Stephanie felt they should try to create their own in California. A few days later, Brian and Stephanie saw an article in a wine magazine featuring winemaker Steve Clifton who produced his first Palimina wines in the basement of his home in 1995. Steve developed his love of Italian wines while working in Italian restaurants. Today he produces a full range of wines crafted from Italian varieties grown in Santa Barbara County. Brian and Stephanie, close to her delivery date and feeling a bit woozy, visited him to ask his advice. “If I can do it, you can do it” were his words of encouragement.
Managing Twin Daughters and the Luna Matta Vineyard
Stephanie gave birth to the twins in November 2005 in Fresno. In early 2006, John and Jody, the owners of the Luna Matta vineyard, called to offer Stephanie the job as manager in Paso Robles vineyard. The job involved working there a few days a week. At the time, Brian was working for a Fresno based wine importer and wholesaler, Chambers & Chambers Wine Merchants, with customers in California and Hawaii. The Terrizzis were living in their home in Fresno and the challenge of traveling to Paso Robles weekly to manage the vineyard while caring for two baby girls seemed almost impossible. But Stephanie realized the incredible opportunity to manage the unique vineyard and work with Italian grape varieties including Nebbiolo. This opportunity has provided Stephanie with invaluable knowledge and viticultural experience growing Italian varieties that is unequaled in San Luis Obispo County. She describes her feeling that … “life moves at the speed of light. The best thing about my job is that I never have the same day twice.”
The adventure began when they rented a small condo in Paso Robles and started commuting back and forth with two baby girls. Brian cared for them between making phone calls and sending emails to customers while Stephanie worked in the Luna Matta Vineyard a few days a week.
Stephanie analyzed the basic structure of the Luna Matta vineyard. The spacing in the vineyard is five feet between the vines and ten between the rows, a spacious layout that could not be changed. She studied the elements that attracted her to the vineyard – the soil and the interesting rocks. The quartz in the vineyard adds mineralogy, keeps calcium levels high and acidity levels low. The other important aspect is the calcareous rock which can absorb water in the rainy season. The vines act as sponges, absorbing the water all throughout the season, because of the high clay content in the soil. The vineyard had been dry farmed for much of its history. Positively charged ions create a lot of activity in the soil.
The geology is also fascinating. An ancient sea bed encompassed much of the west side of Paso Robles. Every few years ribs or vertebrae of ancient whales come to the surface on the west side of Paso Robles, bringing awe and wonder to the farmers and vineyard workers.
The west side of Paso Robles has other qualities that distinguish it from the terroir of the east side of California Highway 101. The soils on the west side generally contain more clay, have a higher pH and on average grow smaller grapes. Most of the westside vineyards also have their own source of water, often reached by one or more wells. On the east side where the Giornata Estate Vineyard is located, water is more commonly sourced from a reservoir. Water management is crucial for residents and for agriculture in this area.
Stephanie’s success in planting and managing the vineyard is legendary. Luna Matta became famous for the quality of the Italian varieties. It was also the source for grapes for many legendary varietals and winemakers. Unfortunately for those who relied on these premium grapes, the vineyard now has new owners who have removed the vines and replaced them with Cabernet Sauvignon. You can view a short documentary film, The Last Harvest of the Luna Matta Vineyard in 2021, on the Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County’s website www.winehistoryproject.org.
Stephanie’s Impact on Local Viticulture
Today Stephanie manages the Terrizzi estate vineyard based on her years of expertise, experimentation and observation. It is located within the Paso Robles AVA, in the sub appellation known as the El Pomar district. When the Terrizzi family purchased the vineyard, Stephanie worked with an intern from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo to analyze and research the various pockets of soil in the vineyard located at the top of a hill. The spacing in the Estate Vineyard is four feet between the vines and seven feet between the rows. Water is a precious commodity and most of the time, vines are dry farmed.
Stephanie focuses on the soil in the vineyard. It is important not to move the soil around the vineyard but to leave the soil in place so the microbiota growing on the roots of the wine stay in place. Microorganisms play important roles in both wine production and quality from the vineyard to the winery. Microbes that are associated with the grapevines and transferred to the “must” during winemaking profoundly influences wine composition, flavor and quality. In short, these microbes can influence fermentation. They also can influence the health of the vine by enabling nutrient uptake and increasing the vine’s tolerance to biotic stress. (My reference is frontiersin.org Frontiers in Microbiology – Food Microbiology. School of Agriculture and Food, University of Melbourne in Melbourne VIC, Australia.) Don’t include this in the paragraph.
Stephanie continues to carefully research various clones. She has selected the more serious clones of Italian varieties including Sangiovese to plant in healthy soil.
Giornata Wine produces many white wines. Stephanie is focusing on maintaining the acidity in white grapes by not irrigating them and picking the grapes based on pH levels. The white grapes are fermented and aged in stainless steel and refreshing to drink with food or in social settings. Giornata is also focusing on a series called Fatto a Mano Wines, which translates to handcrafted wines. These white grapes are fermented and aged on their skins in clay amphorae for a long period of time, similar to the method of amphorae winemaking with red grapes.
Stephanie planted the Terrizzi Estate Vineyard in 2013 which involved clearing the land and removing old almond trees. It was necessary to initially rip the soil in one direction and then the other. She has not moved the soil since 2013. Stephanie is constantly working to rebuild and improve the soil health, to increase the fungus to bacteria ratios, and to build both aggregates and organic matter in the vineyard. Each month the soil should be in better health than the month before. Another goal is to capture water and keep it in the soil. She is working to create a stable and healthy environment in the vineyard. She inspires others to follow her practices. Her careful management and the terroir, including soil types, climate, and topography of this local environment, profoundly influence grapevine growth and development.
The Terrizzis – A Family of Entrepreneurs – Giornata Wines
The website summarizes: “We produce Italian-varietal wine from vineyards we farm in Paso Robles using traditional, old-world winemaking techniques. Our wines are made to express the character of grape variety, terroir and vintage. Structured for the table and the cellar, their fresh and vibrant personalities highlight the bounty of the dramatic soils in our diverse growing region.”
Stephanie works with each of the vineyards listed below to source and harvest the grapes for Giornata Wines. Many of the vineyards were discovered when Stephanie and Brian founded their large commercial winery, Broadside, when they first moved to Paso Robles in 2007. Brian and Stephanie sources their grapes for Broadside at vineyards throughout the county. Many of the large growers selling Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay had Italian roots or as Stephanie says, had names ending in a vowel. Brian and Stephanie discovered many growers had planted small blocks of their favorite Italian varieties – perhaps an acre of Sangiovese adjacent to 50 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon. Stephanie and Brian began to buy small amounts of these grapes for winemaking at Giornata Wines. This has generated a lot of excitement and support among local growers who are proud to see their grapes used in making these Italian wines. Each time Stephanie heads out to one of their vineyards she arrives with a bag of Etto Pasta and a bottle of wine made from the grapes of last year’s vintage. It is time to celebrate!
Stephanie spends time with Wine Club members and guests at the tasting room educating them on the grape varietals used in Giornata Wines including Fiano, Falanghina, Vermentino, Barbera, Aglianico, Nebbiolo, Montepulciano, Sangiovese and Gemellaia. Many of their guests are tasting these varietals for the first time and Stephanie’s stories enrich their experience.
Luna Matta Vineyard, organic since 2011, is located 1750 feet above sea level. Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Fiano and Aglianico were growing there through the 2021 harvest. Most of the vines were dry farmed. The vineyard has been sold to new owners who have replaced these varieties. It is a great loss for small winemakers who sourced the grapes for the last 15 years.
Giornata Estate Vineyard planted in 2013 produced the first harvest in 2017. Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Ribolla Gialla, Friulano and Trebbiano are grown in this vineyard.
Margarita Vineyard has soils composed of ancient sea bed, shale, rocky alluvium, granite and volcanic matter. This SIP Certified vineyard produces Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.
Bassi Ranch Vineyard is the source of Pinot Grigio. Grapes are grown biodynamically at 175 feet elevation with views of the Pacific Ocean in this vineyard owned by Mike Sinor.
French Camp Vineyard with alluvial soils of sandy loan is located at an elevation of 1400 feet in a very dry area east of Paso Robles. It has been owned by the Miller Family since 1973. Aglianico grapes were first planted there for winemaker Randall Grahm’s wines produced at his Bonny Doon Winery. Two acres are now planted to Aglianico. The MIller family uses a falconer at harvest instead of netting, compost teas and cover crops in this SIP Certified vineyard.
Black Vineyard produces Merlot of intense flavor and depth in the vineyard owned by Liz and Jim Black. The low yielding vines are grown on a steep hillside in rocky soils on the west side of Paso Robles.
Nightingale Ranch Vineyard is sustainably farmed in soils known as the Nacimiento complex made of silty clay loam, weathered rocks from calcareous soil shale and sandstone. Fiano and Aglianico grow at an elevation of 800 feet on hills with a 15-30% slope.
Panache Vineyard is where Barbera grows at 1150 above sea level. The diurnal temperature variations from day to night are among the highest in the region which thickens the skins of the grape. The two acre vineyard is located at 1150 feet elevation east of Paso Robles near Creston. The soils are the Los Osos-Nacimiento complex of clay loam over weathered bedrock.
Stephanie’s career and her impact on the history of San Luis Obispo County have just begun. We will continue to add to her Legend each year.
I close with two comments for famous wine writers:
Stephanie has become “the area’s great alternative vineyardist” according to author Jon Bonne in his best selling book, The New California Wine.
A quote from wine writer Esther Mobley published in the San Francisco Chronicle on December 1, 2016 states that all four members of the family exude individual passions, are entrepreneurial-focused and driven, sharing an intense collaboration and close family connections.
1975: Stephanie Sorn is born on July 23 in Rockford, Illinois. Her parents are Ronald and Carol Sorn. She grows up in Freeport, Illinois near the Wisconsin border, surrounded by farms and cows. She joins the 4-H Club and may be the only viticulturist who can milk cows and rope cattle.
1993: High School Date of Graduation
Hobbies: singing and music
Awards: National Honors Society
Areas of interest: science and math
1994: Enrolls at University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and works multiple jobs.
1996: Her first job at a wine bar in Illinois introduces Stephanie to California wine.
1996: Transfers first to Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois and then to UW Madison to continue her education.
1998: After determining that what “she hates most is the Chicago cold weather and snow,” Stephanie packs her bags and drives with her dog to San Francisco Bay Area. She settles in Santa Rosa, California. She seeks employment and is hired at three food and beverages establishments – Third Street AleWorks (brewpub), Wolf Coffee, and Ca’ Bianca Restaurant.
1998: Enrolls in a Wine Tasting Class at the Santa Rosa Community Center to improve her job skills.
1998-2003: Manages and builds wine programs for Ca’ Bianca and Sassafras restaurants, working with top wine professionals and wine distributors.
1999: Enrolls in the Viticulture Program at Santa Rosa Community College.
Works in vineyards in Napa and Sonoma Counties for the next four years.
2000: Works almost full time at Feast with Dan Kosta, co-founder of cult Pinot-Noir Kosta Browne. (Dan was also the sommelier at John Ash.). Dan trains Stephanie and the staff on how to sell wine, present wine and talk about it to guests.
2001: Completes Certification in Viticulture at Santa Rosa Community College.
2002: Enrolls in Fresno State to study enology, chemistry, and plant science. Stephanie continues living in Santa Rosa for the first year while attending Fresno State.
2003: Stephanie focuses on Viticulture and is introduced to Sustainable farming at the farm and vineyard at Santa Rosa Community College.
2004: Produces her first wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, in a backyard shed in Fresno.
2004: Meets, studies with, and falls in love with Brian Terrizzi. They love all things Italian from cuisine to wine. They decide the perfect pairing will be to establish a vineyard with Stephanie as the viticulturist and a winery with Brian as winemaker. They plan to move to Italy permanently after graduating.
2005: Stephanie and Brian travel to Italy to taste, learn and build their knowledge about producing wines in the Italian style. “We stayed in Rome in 2005 for just a few days and spent the rest of our time together in Spain. We went to Barcelona, Marbella, and Sevilla. I think it was a test to see if we should get married.”
2005: Stephanie begins to research Nebbiolo clones using Novavine Nursery in Santa Rosa as her primary resource. She continues her research on Italian varieties both in the United States and in Italy to the present day.
2005: Stephanie graduates from Fresno State in Viticulture. Brian graduates in Enology in December.
2005: Marriage of Brian and Stephanie Terrizzi. Stephanie becomes pregnant with twins. The move to Italy is abandoned and new plans develop.
2005: Brian finds employment at both Sam’s Italian Deli in Fresno, establishing Nick’s Wine Corner, and later at Chambers & Chambers Wine Merchants, wine importers and distributors. He makes many contacts in the wine and restaurant industries.
2005: Stephanie contacts four growers of Nebbiolo who had purchased Nebbiolo clones from Novavine Nursery. One couple invites her to tour their Luna Matta Vineyard in Paso Robles and offers to let her harvest the Nebbiolo grapes they have not been able to sell. Nebbiolo is Stephanie’s favorite and she accepts! After the harvest Brian makes their first barrel of wine and they commit to founding Giornata Wines.
2005: Aida and Kate, twin daughters, born to Stephanie and Brian in November.
2006: Stephanie is hired to work in the Luna Matta Vineyard in Paso Robles.
They rent a small condo in Paso Robles and commute between Paso and Fresno, juggling their career and the twins. They decide to move to Paso Robles.
2006: The Terrizzi family moves to Paso Robles. Stephanie immediately begins working in the vineyards focusing on bio-organic viticulture.
According to Jon Bonné, author of The New California Wine, A Guide to Producers and Wines Behind a Revolution in Taste, states that “Stephanie has become the area’s great alternative vineyardist.” Stephanie mentored many growers on organic and sustainable agriculture farming and obtaining certifications.
2006: Giornata Winery becomes full time pursuit – a small family owned winery. The label and logo are created by Michael Kirts.
2007: Brian and Stephanie start a large commercial winery known as Broadside Winery; the label is created by Michael Kirts.
2007: Brian and Stephanie make the first of multiple trips to Piedmonte, Italy to research Italian viticulture and winemaking starting in the Spring of 2007. Stephanie’s favorite day is a tasting at La Spinetta and at Pio Cesare.
2008: Brian and Stephanie purchase 11 acres south of Paso Robles in the El Pomar District. This will be their home and future Estate Vineyard.
2009: Brian and Stephanie attend VinItaly, the International Wine and Spirits Exhibition in Verona in the winter. It is a four day exhibition with prestigious vertical and walk around tastings, technical discussions and focus meetings analyzing main markets. Brian is recovering from an Achilles rupture. They spend time in Venice and Verona before traveling south to Bari, Matera, Barile and Campania. To quote Stephanie “ We spent a lot of time wrapping our heads around Aglianico and finished in Montalcino.”
2010: They are invited to travel to Italy to pour Giornata Wines at the Nebbiolo Grapes Event in the Valtellina Region (Sondrio). The wines receive much praise.
2012: Stephanie designs a showcase 5.5 vineyard at Allegretto Vineyard Resort in Paso Robles. Stephanie works with George Donati, a man she highly respects, on the project.
2013: Stephanie plants four acres of their Estate vineyard atop a knoll on their 11 acre property. The oldest vines are five rows of Trebbiano. She also plants Nebbiolo and Friulano.
2013: The Terrizzis are invited for a second time to travel to Italy to pour Giornata Wines at the Nebbiolo Grapes Event in the Valtellina Region (Sondrio). The wines receive much praise.
2013: The newly planted Nebbiolo vines in the Terrizzi Estate vineyard die during a rare December freeze.
2014: Stephanie replants 1.5 acres to new Nebbiolo clones including FPS Clones 6 and 8 and VCR Clone 430. Everything is planted on 1103 rootstock. The clones are purchased at Novavine Nursery in Santa Rosa. She attempts to root some Ribolla Gialla cuttings from the late George Vare’s property in Napa. It was a backyard project and about half the vines survive.
2016: Esther Mobley publishes her article 2016 Winemakers to Watch on December 1. Stephanie and Brian Terrizzi are on the list.
2018: The Terrizzi family travels to Italy, spending time in Venice, Bologna, Siena, Trani, Matera, and Rome.
2019: Opening of a new family business named Etto Pastificio, the Italian market and pasta manufacturer, in Tin City.
2020: The Coronavirus Pandemic is declared in March.
2021: Stephanie planted the first Nero di Troia grapes in the United States at a property one hill over from our estate. The growers are Clive and Karrin Pinder, and about 185 plants were grafted.
2021: Brian and Stephanie join the The Amphora Project founded by the Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County to celebrate the 15 local winemakers who produce wine using amphorae during fermentation and/or storage and are filmed for an upcoming documentary on 6,000 Years of Winemaking in Clay Vessels.
2021: Brian and Stephanie are featured in an Exhibit created by the Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County at the Wine Gallery at the Paso Robles History Museum which opens on October 16, 2021.
2021: Friends and Winemakers celebrate and mourn the last harvest at Luna Matta Vineyard. The Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County documents the event and posts a short documentary, The Last Harvest of Luna Matta Vineyard.
2022: Brian and Stephanie travel to Sicily with their twin daughters for rest and relaxation and research and development.