Feature Coverage

Jack Tognetti at 100: A farmer’s perspective on grapes and the good life

“According to John F. “Jack “ Tognetti, owner of the Aloise Francisco Vineyards in Los Carneros, the secret to a long life is moderation, hard work and a little wine.

“People who eat too much or who run on concrete put too much stress on their bodies,” Tognetti said on the patio of his Los Carneros home just south of the town of Napa.

“The key is moderation and being good to your body, but it’s also important to get out there and do some physical work every day — our bodies and minds were made for working. I eat small meals — a simple salad and a small piece of fish, for example, and I only have small amounts of wine when I do drink.”

Tognetti, who turned 100 this year, talked about his life and his philosophy as the afternoon Carneros breeze began to pick up, rustling the leaves of the fig, plum, pear, apple and peach trees that border the house, beyond which the meticulously farmed Chardonnay vines fade into the distance.

“I’m out in the vineyard every day — there’s always something to do,” Tognetti said. “At the moment, we’ve just finished disking and done some fine-tuning on the pruning. To get the grapes to ripen without sun damage, we manage how the leaves of the vine interact with the grape clusters. The most important thing is to be out there doing the work, understanding your place.”

“Jack’s chardonnay grapes come from a pocket on Bayview Avenue adjacent to Carneros Creek that has worked really well for us for many years,” said Hugh Davies, Schramsberg’s president.

“This relatively cool pocket of Napa Valley, with its dark, loamy soils allow for really high acid retention in the fruit,” he added. “These grapes consistently deliver vibrant, tasty and tart fruit that helps carry a wine’s palate and deliver long-aging potential as well. And beyond the quality of fruit, the grapes come from the vineyard of one of the coolest guys I know…”

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Tim Carl, July 13, 2017
Jack Tognetti at 100: A farmer’s perspective on grapes and the good life