Gabriella Gazzano

Gabriella Gazzano

Paoletti Estates Winery (Consulting Winemaker)

Gabriella Gazzano was born in San Francisco to Italian immigrant parents, and today she continues her family's heritage in agriculture and winemaking. Her father emigrated to Northern California from Italy and brought with him a highly developed palate and knowledge of fine food and wine. Consequently, Gabriella grew up smelling, tasting, and cooking.

Gabriella began her winemaking career in 1996, working in the cellar and vineyards at Fritz Winery in Sonoma County as assistant winemaker. Coincidentally, she started at the same time as Helen Turley, who had been hired as the winery consultant. At Fritz, Gabriella made Dry Creek Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, Russian River Chardonnay, and Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc.

After four years at Fritz Winery, she moved to the Napa Valley and assisted in producing outstanding ultra-premium cult-status wines for both the Pahlmeyer and Jayson labels, including Napa Valley Merlot, Chardonnay, and the Red, a five-varietal Bordeaux Blend. In 2004, she was back in the Dry Creek Valley as Vice President and Director of Winemaking for Pezzi King Vineyards, where, at last count, she had produced 15 gold and 14 silver medal-winning wines. These included Burgundian-style Russian River Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, along with Dry Creek Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Her training was “hands on,” and she did all the jobs in the winery, from scrubbing the floors to punching down the fermenting tanks to preparing the final blends for bottling. She even repaired the presses. As Gabriella has noted, “a career in winemaking is very diverse and demanding; there is a lot of mundane grunt work along with complex chemistry and microbiology and of course the palate to pull it all together.”

Her dream always had been to start her own winery, and she achieved it with the founding of Rielle Wines in 2008. The winery was named after her younger daughter. Both of her daughters have grown up in the wine industry, where they are accustomed to cleaning tanks, running filters and pumps, stirring and topping barrels, doing lab work, and sampling the vineyards. Rielle definitely was a family affair before it closed in late 2016.

Beginning in 2009, Gabriella became the consulting winemaker for Paoletti Estates Winery in Calistoga, where she crafts premium Bordeaux and Super Tuscan blends as well as several varietals. She also established GMG Consulting, Inc., in 2008, through which she provides expertise for winery start-ups, solving winery problems, and addressing viticultural issues.