Saint Rose Winery — Frederic Nunes

Moving the quonset to the Santa Rosa ranch in the early 1950's. "That ugly thing will folow me for the rest of my life" —Dorothy Nunes

Fred Nunes, helicopter pilot

First you have to mow.

1940 Oldsmobile Coupe

Ed, Dorothy & Fred Nunes in San Francisco

Our History

Fred grew up farming row crops with his father in Salinas, California, and loved traveling to San Francisco to listen to his Italian grandfather Fred Muzio tell stories about winemaking and brandy distilling. By age 12, Fred was nurturing a small vineyard down the south side of the house and had established his first vinegar barrel. But it was many more years before Fred's passion for grape growing and winemaking could be fulfilled.

When Fred's mother Dorothy suggested he might want to farm his grandfather's ranch in the Russian River Valley, we were intrigued. It's a great place to grow wine, especially Pinot Noir. So when it came time to retire from his career as a firefighting helicopter pilot, Fred took a natural path back to farming and wine. Having picked up a degree in systematic biology and ecology along the way, Fred saw the opportunity to meld his interest in science with his love of grape growing and winemaking.

Fred could do this! His father and his grandfather would have loved the idea, and we loved the idea of building wine from the ground up, starting at the cellular level.

In 1997, we sold everything we owned, leased the ranch from Dorothy who still lives there, and remodeled a small house on an adjacent property. Being quick studies, we took every viticulture and enology class we could find, read every recommended book and some that weren’t, and in the spring of 2000 we planted ten different blocks of Pinot Noir.
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A favorite Grandfather Muzio story involved a large wooden tank of wine on a clandestine trip in the back of Muzio's truck crossing the San Francisco Bay on the ferry during prohibition. All that motion and a little warmth from the sun started the wine fermenting. By the time they reached the dock, the bung had popped and wine was foaming out all over the deck of the boat. Muzio had the motor running and revved.

In 1932 when he was fifteen, Fred's father, Ed Nunes, with his father and his ten siblings, were farming up to 1000 acres when they purchased their first tractor. Across a creek, fifteen acres lay fallow, not accessable with the new equipment, so Ed got permission to farm that himself. He lowered the banks of the creek with a shovel and brought the team of horses out of retirement. The horses were happy for something to do, and Ed made himelf enough money that after he graduated from high school, he was able to buy a brand new 1940 Oldsmobile Coupe. Later, when he was sent to the South Pacific as a B25 strafer pilot, he sold the car to buy Dorothy her engagement ring.

Our Journey to wine >>

Frederic Nunes & Wendy Fowler Nunes