Tony Lombardi was born into a family of small business owners, and grew up in Sonoma County. He graduated from Saint Mary’s College with a degree in Business Management. His first job in the wine business came in 1998 when he joined the hospitality team at Clos Du Bois Winery, located in Geyserville, California.
From 2001 to 2013, Lombardi held senior leadership positions in marketing, public relations, and sales for such companies as Allied Domecq Wines, Beam Wine Estates, J Vineyards & Winery, Ascentia Wine Estates, and Kosta Browne Winery.
In partnership with his wife Christine, Lombardi founded Lombardi Wines in 2013 with a barrel of Chardonnay and a barrel of Pinot Noir. He describes himself as a storyteller/connector at heart, and loves to tell the unique and interesting personal stories of Sonoma and Napa wineries and winemakers, and connect them and their wines to people across the country. As part of that effort, he was encouraged to take the leap of faith in creating his own label from his former employers Dan Kosta and Michael Browne. They told him, “We did it, so should you!”
Lombardi hired Cabell Coursey in 2015 to be his winemaker and viticulturist/grower relations manager after he had held those jobs for three years at Kosta Browne. Coursey also toils at his own winery, Coursey Graves. Prior to those efforts, he was the winemaker with Andy Smith at Dumol. Well traveled, he has made wines all over the world, including Burgundy, New Zealand, Oregon, and California.
Coursey and Lombardi make small lots of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from vineyards in the Sonoma Coast AVA. However, the winery owns no acreage or vineyards itself. Rather, the Pinot Noir fruit is sourced from growers in the greater Petaluma area, where the Lombardi family has been since 1947, and Lombardi himself has cultivated many close relationships. He says, “I’m most proud of the interconnections I have with grower families that provide access to incredible fruit and that I can make a style of wine that I love to drink. The greatest satisfaction is seeing that enjoyment from people who try the wines I love to make. I founded my winery to honor my Italian roots and immigration story. Wine has always been a part of my family’s history, starting from my great-grandfather Nazzareno Lombardi and his childhood friend Cesare Mondavi and their story of coming to America together in 1914. Sunday night dinners with extended family where the lively and spirited conversation around the dinner table was religion, politics, but always family first.”
The winery is not open to the public and does not have a tasting room. The wines are sold through an allocated mailing list. This limited production is by design, as Lombardi wants the winery to grow “organically.” Newly active members are first offered the Appellation Series and a small allocation of limited production single vineyard designates. Consistent ordering gains members access to a wider selection of wines.
In addition to being a wine entrepreneur, in 2015 Lombardi started Lombardi Marketing, a boutique consulting company offering marketing, public relations, and wholesale services for the benefit of small to mid-size wine companies in need of this expertise.
Lombardi also actively participates in charity wine auctions across the country. He believes that connecting through wine helps raise much-needed awareness and funds for worthwhile causes.
Lombardi Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2018
The fruit was sourced from the Sangiacomo family of growers (and winemakers) in Petaluma. Fermented in 100% French oak barrels, of which only 10% were new, this Chardonnay was aged for 14 months in custom barrels sourced from the Freres, Bousseau, Chassin, Mercurey, and Atelier cooperages of France. It is a very pale yellow, with aromas of melon and honeysuckle, and just a hint of vanilla. The dominant flavors are lemon and tangerine, backed up by peach. Not surprisingly, with so little new oak during fermentation, there is just a whisper of wood. The wine finishes with an ideal level of refreshing acidity. The ABV is 13.5%. Like all Lombardi selections, this is a limited-production wine, with 240 cases made.
Lombardi Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2018
This wine was fermented in 100% French oak barrels (25% new). It then saw 14 months of aging in custom barrels sourced from the Boutes and Atelier cooperages of France. It shows a very transparent ruby in the glass. The nose features aromas of rich black cherry, currants, and a hint of marshmallow. On the palate there is a silky mouthfeel, with flavors of tart cherry, blackberry, and a bit of cocoa. The focused acidity is complemented by delicate tannins. It all wraps up with a medium-long finish. The ABV is 14.2%. 300 cases made.
Lombardi Pinot Noir Hill Justice Vineyard 2018
The Hill Justice vineyard is nearly 1,100 feet up the side of Sonoma Mountain, and was personally planted by winemaker Cabel Coursey and his team. This wine was fermented in 100% French oak barrels (50% new). It then saw 14 months of aging in barrels sourced from Boutes and Atelier. It is a very crystal-clear deep purple. The wine starts with aromas of dark stone fruit, blackberry, and chocolate. In the mouth, it is super smooth, with flavors echoing the scents, plus some cola. The delicate acidity is supported by fine tannins. Things come to an end with a juicy finish. The ABV is 14.%. 100 cases made.
Lombardi Pinot Noir Guisti Ranch 2018
The fruit for this wine was grown by the Giusti family, who came to Sonoma from San Pelligrino, Italy in the 1870s. They began by farming olives and grapes, then moved over the years to prunes, cherries, and apples, and have now returned to grapes and olives. The first Pinot Noir planting was in 2000.
Giusti Ranch and Vineyard Photo: Kurt Giusti
Under the Giusti Ranch Vineyard designate, in addition to supplying Lombardi, the family also sells grapes to Kosta Browne Winery, in another example of Tony Lombardi’s tightly-knit network.
This wine was fermented in 100% French oak barrels (50% new). It then saw 14 months of aging in barrels sourced from Taransaud, Chassin, and Boutes. Like the Hill Justice, it is a very crystal-clear deep purple. It also has similar aromas of dark stone fruit, blackberry, and a bit of baked cherry pie. It is super smooth as well, with flavors echoing the scents. The acidity and tannins are well balanced, and the wine delivers a long finish. The ABV is 14.8%. 100 cases made.
Although Oregon and Washington state are justifiably famous for their Pinot Noirs, Lombardi’s selections prove that with high-quality fruit and a skilled winemaker, Sonoma can do equally well. Indeed, these are some of the best Pinot Noirs I’ve ever had. Highly recommended.
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