When Ed Sbragia was growing up, wine meant both livelihood and quality of life to his family. Ed's grandfather, an immigrant from Tuscany, had naturally gravitated to the wineries flourishing in California at the turn of the century.Ed's father acquired his own vineyards near Healdsburg, growing zinfandel grapes for sale and home winemaking. "He made excellent wine," says Ed, "and he taught me that making wine is a very natural process - that good grapes and good techniques will make good red wine."
In the Tuscan tradition, good red wine was a part of every family dinner. The vineyards meant hard work for young Ed - pruning, thinning, harvesting and crushing. Ed majored in chemistry at the University of California at Davis, headed for a career in science. But his family background made him the top candidate for a job in a winery laboratory upon graduation.
Quickly realizing that the winemaker's job was what he wanted, he returned to California State University at Fresno for a master's degree in enology. After a year working at a Sonoma County winery, he learned about an opening as winemaker Myron Nightingale's assistant at Beringer. "Myron was a great teacher. He was the most intuitive winemaker I've ever known. He understood that winemaking requires subjective input - a feeling, - just like painting or sculpture or any work to which you dedicate yourself."
Ed is now a consultant for Beringer after 32 years as Winemaster. "Beringer has been so gracious to me. They helped me start my family winery, Sbragia Family Vineyards."
Ed and his wife, Jane Sbragia, purchased the old Lake Sonoma Winery facility in 2006 and this is where Sbragia Family Vineyards started its very own winery. "Sbragia Family Vineyards is a dream that I've had for some time, a small, family-owned winery making limited, individual lots of wine from grapes grown in select blocks of my favorite vineyards. I've always had one foot in Sonoma and the other in Napa. Both areas mean a lot to me emotionally. I'm more attached to Dry Creek because it's where I raised my kids. But the wines that I've made at Beringer are like my children, so Napa is also a very special place to me. Â Either way, the wines are intensely personal, and expression not only of terroir, but of my family's winemaking heritage."
The Family Vineyards are my father's legacy to me and my children. I love this land and making wine from it. Bottling it under the family name affirms all the work my father did for me. Â It is something I had to do to show my gratitude to my father, Gino."
The winery is small, family-owned and is known for making wine from a single vineyard designate. All of the wine is limited production and made in the big, rich, polished Sbragia style. The winery produces about 12,000 cases of wine per year and is open to the public daily.