Raymond Signorello Sr. started making wine almost by accident, you would never
know it by uncorking one of his bottlings.
Raymond Signorello Sr. entered the wine business when he fell in love with a beautiful
hundred acres in the Napa Valley. Signorello purchased the property and began
growing Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon for Cuvasion, Caymus, and Cakebread
wineries. Signorello didn't have the facitities or any plan to produce his own
wines, but he was forced to change his plans in 1985.
The bumper crop of 1985 produced such an abundance of excellent fruit, that there
was no demand for the Signorello grapes from the premium wineries. Rather than
dispair at his bad luck, Ray took the opportunity to try something new and began
producing his own wines. Ray's attempt began to show signs of success very rapidly.
The winery's inagural release, the 1985 Estate Bottled Chardonnay, came out in
1987, and Signorello has been producing fabulous wine ever since then.
With the help of his son, Raymond Jr. and winemaker Steve Devitt, Ray built a
main winery structure and began producing red wine as well as white. By 1990,
Signorello began planting red grapes, as well as the white grapes which had occupied
the vineyard. Finally, in 1991 they were able to completely produce their wines
in house. While continuing to sell grapes to producers such as Silverado, William
Hill, and Franciscan, Signorello produces 4,000 to 6,000 cases of wine a year.
The real key to Signorello wines is the care taken throughout the wine making
process, beginning with the very treatment of the soil in which the grapes are
planted. Signorello wines are very artfully crafted, based on the idea of "winegrowing,"
which comes from the old French term vigneron. This means that everything done
in the vineyard is intimately connected to the end goal of the winemaker in the
The goal at Signorello is to produce a distinctly Burgandian Wine: full, rich
Chardonnay, similar to those of Domaine Leflaive and magnificent, silky Pinot
Noir, like those of Romanee Conti. To achieve this end, the vineyard focuses on
producing lush fruit, while the winery strives for elegance, balance and depth.
Every measure is taken to achieve these goals. In order to increase more intensely
flavored fruit, the reds are planted at 1200 vines per acre as opposed to the
normal 560, which increases the stress on each individual vine. Shoot positioning
and leaf trimming keeps foliage off of the fruit to ensure proper sun ratio for
optimal ripeness. Overall tonnage is kept down (half of the average yield), by
cluster thinning, to concentrate flavor and complexity.