Like many born and raised in Northern California, Chris Russi, was introduced to wine and winemaking at young age. He always had an affinity for science and the outdoors which he has been able to carry through his career as a winemaker, vineyard owner and manager.
He received his BA from Santa Clara University in Combined Sciences, after graduating, spent the next year studying Scrub Jays for the UC Berkley ornithological department. It was during this time that he was given the opportunity to be the vineyard manager at Orsi/Kuimelis Vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley. Over the next three years he planted and maintained thirty acres of vineyard, giving him a better appreciation and understanding of the farming aspect of winemaking. After gaining experience in the vineyard, he was ready to move into the production side of winemaking and took a job at Geyser Peak Winery. There he was able to hone his lab skills and began building the foundation to become a winemaker.
As someone who loves to travel, Chris jumped at the opportunity to intern at the Peter Lehmann Winery in the Barossa Valley, Australia, when he returned, he enrolled in the viticulture and enology program at UC Davis.
Before becoming the winemaker at Comstock Wines in 2013 and more recently for Gregory James Wines, he spent time at J Vineyard & Winery, Christopher Creek Winery and Thomas George. Having worked at a diverse set of wineries gives Chris the unique experience of working with many different varietals grown across Sonoma County.
Chris is also the proud owner of a small old vine Zinfandel vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley. Since he acquired the vineyard in 2004, he has tended to the almost 1,000 vines himself which is no easy task with newly planted vines let alone vines that are 114-years-old.
If you ever get the chance to meet Chris, you will see that his a very generous with his time and knowledge. His passion for his craft is inspiring and how he manages to get through his daily work orders and tend to his own vineyard is a mystery.