Founded in 2004, Bonanno Vintners is driven by a passion for producing high quality fruit-focused wines that are well made, varietally correct, and over-deliver for the price point. Founder Matt Bonanno grew up in Ohio and is third generation in the wine business. While early on in life he was packing trucks and working in the warehouse moving boxes for his father’s distribution business, it would be a fortuitous business trip to the Napa Valley in 1994 with his father Ardie that would fuel Matt’s desire to produce his own wines.
Matt and Ardie were meeting the legendary Dick Steltzner for lunch at Mustard’s Grill in Yountville. As one of the original grape growers in Napa and a true pioneer, Dick was larger than life. He had purchased his vineyard in the Stag’s Leap District in 1965 and had also gone on to help establish such famous wineries as Clod Du Val and Diamond Creek. Needless to say, spending an afternoon barrel tasting in the caves and hearing Dick’s stories lit a fire in Matt. The next day an overwhelming question started to take hold; “How was Matt going to produce wine in Napa Valley?”
That question would need some time and further experience before being answered. Following the Napa trip, Matt would eventually take a job in Chicago with the wholesale company Union Beverage. He continued to study the wine market and eventually landed the opportunity to work back in Napa with Bernard Portet of Clos Du Val. Bernard had grown up in a wine-making family in Bordeaux, eventually starting Clos du Val in 1971. His depth of experience was priceless, and he quickly became a mentor. Matt worked harvest, helped in the winery, and saved his paychecks while continuing to study the marketplace. Matt would also spend a lot of time driving up and down the Silverado trail with Dick Steltzner in his old Isuzu trooper. They would meet the growers, get samples, take them back to the winery and talk wine styles (often times stopping at the Soda Canyon Store for a Sierra Nevada tall boy to clean their palates in between). Matt saw and felt the need for more approachable everyday Napa Valley wines and in 2004 BonAnno Vintners was born.
Not only the last name of the family, BonAnno means “good year” in Italian and heralds the celebration of good times. It is the essence of celebration, not just the big momentous occasions, but the everyday memories that fill our lives. The BonAnno wines have always been inspired and styled for the Napa wine consumer with this thought in mind.
In 2009 Matt teamed up with one of his best friends, Fritz Stuhlmuller and started Matthew Fritz Wines. The approach was simple: combine their collective experience in winemaking, contacts with grape growers and wineries in the North Coast and produce wines of incredible value. The Matthew Fritz wines are produced out of Healdsburg in Sonoma, with most of the grapes coming from Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Again, the wines are meant to be authentic, clean and true to the varietal.
In 2018 Matt purchased Fritz’s half of the company. Today, Matt lives in Chicago with his wife and two daughters, ultimately splitting his time between Chicago and Napa Valley/Sonoma. As a family, they are closely tied to the business. Matt has always enjoyed cooking and has a passion for bringing friends and family together with wine and food. That tradition only seems to continue as his daughters have started taking over his kitchen.
Jim Milone has long-established roots in the North Coast region. A fourth-generation winegrower, his great grandfather established their first family winery in Hopland before Prohibition. Jim’s formal education included Santa Rosa Junior College and Humboldt State University, as well as winemaking courses through the University of California at Davis, however his real education began at a very young age learning the craft from winemakers who shared with him hard-won knowledge gained through decades of experience in the vineyards.
At the age of 21 Jim started work on his first commercial winery venture, Milano Winery. There he garnered numerous gold medals for wines made from vineyards spanning many California appellations, ranging from whites like Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay to Bordeaux style reds, sparkling and botrytis late harvest dessert wines.
A well-rounded 43-year (and counting!) career allows Jim to have his hands in all aspects of the winemaking business—from establishing and managing vineyards, winemaking and cellar work, to sales and distribution, Jim has a true “grape to glass” knowledge base.
After having an ironically parallel industry upbringing and career to Matt, Jim joined the BonAnno/Matthew Fritz team in 2016. A true cosmic combo, they bring over 75 years of combined experience to the table. Jim has only continued to build on the quality and value that we seek to bring to every glass.
Jim and his wife Vicki enjoy spending time with their son Andy, and enjoy a wide range of activities, fishing, kayaking and spending time outdoors. In his free time Jim also enjoys cooking and playing music with friends and the study of martial arts.
Jim says, “The best part of experience and learning is being able to help someone by sharing what I have learned over the years”.