Caitlin Pianetta

Caitlin Pianetta

Pianetta Winery (Winemaker & Owner)

Caitlin Pianetta grew up with two brothers and styled herself as a “tomboy.” She had an early exposure to farming when she drove around the family farm with her uncle. Her father was drawn to farming after serving as a pilot in the Navy and commercially, and ended up purchasing a 95-acre plot near Paso Robles, California, in 1997. He planted 65 of its acres with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, with the intention of selling all the fruit. With the encouragement of local winemakers, he decided to enter the winemaking arena, founding Pianetta Winery in 2002.

Although she most of her early life living in Fresno, Caitlin spent weekends and summers working at the vineyard. This experience led her to enroll in California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, earning a B.S. degree in Agribusiness in 2004, coincidentally the year when the winery officially released its first vintage of estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.

Not surprisingly given her academic background, Caitlin started her career in the wine industry on the business side, joining the family business in mid-2004 and overseeing sales and marketing of its wines. As the winery expanded and offered other red varietals, she became more interested in the winemaking process itself. She describes her journey to becoming a winemaker in the following way: “At first, I was just doing what my dad told me to do. Then I started really paying attention to what was going on, and asking questions” — and doing more research, and reading books, and going to seminars, and making suggestions … and then, eventually, making the wines. I got more and more involved, pushing to do more and more.”

Caitlin is creative in her winemaking and, at only five feet in height, how she manages cellar work, saying, “It’s very physically demanding, moving barrels around, stuff like that, so I’ve found ways to adapt the winery, do it my way.” She continues to work in the vineyard, which is now home to Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Petite Verdot vines. The Cab and Syrah continue to be estate wines, whereas several other varietals such as Sangiovese, Barbera, and Zinfandel are crafted from sourced fruit.