ZD's Winemaking Team and Cellar Crew
What do you get when you mix Brooklyn attitude with Napa style? The answer is some great tasting wine. Chris Pisani, Winemaker for ZD Wines, is a rare combination of east coast street smart and California cool. Growing up in a big Italian family, Chris learned to appreciate the very things that make Napa so memorable: great food, wine and company. This real-world education made him a perfect fit at ZD Wines where family is the cornerstone of the winery's values, and great wine and food fall close behind.
During his formative years, Chris studied chemistry in college while spending time with his now-wife, Ina, whose father happened to make wines out of their house in Newburgh, New York. Chris watched, learned, experimented and soon he was hooked. The seed was planted and before long, Chris and Ina were moving to California for a taste of life in the wine country.
To make ends meet when they first arrived, Chris took a job at an environmental consulting firm. Shortly afterwards he followed the path of some of Napa's most renowned winemakers and attended UC Davis to study viticulture and enology. It was here that Chris fell headfirst into the world of winemaking and started down the path that would lead him to ZD.
Robert deLeuze, CEO/Winemaster for ZD Wines, was attending a job fair at UC Davis to potentially meet his next Assistant Winemaker and Chris was eager for the opportunity. They met, talked, had an instant rapport and soon Chris was joining the ZD team. When asked what made Chris stand out amid all of the other hungry soon-to-be winemakers, Robert deLeuze stated that, "Chris is an articulate, well-educated, charming man with an infectious passion for his work. He brings a wealth of knowledge to ZD, making wines (which can often be intimidating) accessible and fun."
Beginning in 1996 as an enologist, Chris quickly took on the role of Assistant Winemaker in 1998, working closely with Robert to understand the tradition and techniques that make up the ZD style. Three years later, Chris was in for another surprise when Robert deLeuze announced that after fifteen years as Winemaker he was stepping back from his role to spend more time on the management of the winery. Chris, in turn, would take over as Winemaker.
Five short years after joining the winery, Chris was responsible for producing ZD's signature-style well balanced, fruit-driven Chardonnays; intense, flavorful Pinot Noirs; and opulent, rich Cabernet Sauvignons. "It is important to maintain the commitment to quality that makes ZD Wines so unique," claims Chris. "As a family owned and operated business it is rare to see that level of commitment and I feel such a sense of pride knowing that the wines we produce are crafted from the best possible grapes, with an attention to winemaking that comes from ZD's 40 years of history and experience. When creating a wine, we create it with the customer in mind, with our fans in mind, not the critics. By enjoying our wines, they are sharing in our history, in our heart, and in the passion that we put forth every day. It's why we do what we do."
After thirteen years, ZD Wines is still thrilled to have Chris on board, helping to produce the wines that have garnered recognition in the spirit that drives our time-honored traditions.
Rafael, Vineyard Manager, has been cultivating ZD's Estate Vineyards for a very long time. He is out tending to the vines through each season which often means early mornings and late nights. To help himself with his crazy sleep schedule, Rafael is retrofitting the tractor with a sleeper cab.
Chad has been through many harvests at ZD Wines. In his spare time Chad enjoys being part of an acting group that puts together their own wacky plays including titles such as Bride of Entendre and Single and Loving It. No really, this time it's true!
Will is the man in charge of the flow of wine in and out of the winery. He can often be found zipping around in the fork lift with pallets of wine going to and fro. To keep himself grounded he volunteers on weekends at an ant farm sanctuary. A place for ant farms that are no longer cared for by the children who started them.
Santos is in charge of the gardens around the winery and various other projects, including rock work and lighting. In his spare time, he is working on a project to make houses out of recycled dixie cups.
Javier, winery maintenance, has been with ZD for a long time watching it grow and change over the years. Outside of work he spends time hand making paper out of lollipop sticks.