For so many Italian families, traditions are important. For the Belmonte family, the owners of VJB Cellars and Wellington Cellars, that’s most certainly true. It’s those treasured traditions combined with the relaxed California lifestyle they’ve come to love that they share with guests at their winery since 2003.

The seeds of owning a winery were sown in the late 1990s while operating their very popular Italian restaurant in downtown Santa Rosa, sons Henry and Victor crafted the idea of producing family wines to serve to their guests.

The brothers made their first harvest of Cabernet grapes in 1999, but before that wine was ever bottled, Victor passed away unexpectedly. Though filled with grief, Henry, along with his parents, was determined to keep his younger brother’s memory and passion for making wine alive. VJB Vineyards and Cellars—named for Victor Joseph Belmonte— was born.

In 2002, the Belmonte’s sold their restaurant and began renovating an old home and garden store on Highway 12 in Kenwood. They opened this tasting room on Memorial Day weekend in 2003. There were five wines on the wine list including their flagship wine, Dante, a Cabernet Sauvignon-Sangiovese blend which they still produce.

Although welcoming guests to their storefront tasting room and introducing them to an ever-growing list of Italian varietals and seeing them enjoy these wines was gratifying, the Belmonte family had dreams of creating something more. They wanted a space where visitors could experience not only wine, but also food and an atmosphere that spoke to their Italian heritage and hospitality.

In late 2010 they broke ground on their current tasting room and marketplace turning the existing ranch-style home on the property into a stunning Tuscan-style villa that houses their tasting room, marketplace and deli, as well as an outdoor pizza kitchen and a fabulous piazza that is the heart of the new property.

In mid-2012 VJB Vineyards and Cellars celebrated its grand opening with an extraordinary portfolio of Italian varietals rarely produced in California, coupled with wood oven pizzas and the wonderful, home-style Italian food Maria is so well known for VJB quickly became a must visit destination in the Sonoma Valley.

As the family reflects on their success in operating a truly family owned winery; they are blessed to have had the opportunity to expand a few miles away to own and operate Wellington Cellars a boutique winery focusing on French varietals and offering the same hospitality driven experience a guest would receive at VJB Cellars.