Charles and Helen
The dream of owning a vineyard for Charles and Helen Bacigalupi became a realization in the early 1950s. Charles and Helen moved to the small town of Healdsburg after both graduating from school in San Francisco. Charles worked as the local dentist and Helen as a pharmacist. Always possessing a love of the land the couple decided to move onto Westside Rd in 1956, and purchased 121 acres. In a simple beginning, Charles began to care for the 16 acres of existing vineyards which included Zinfandel, Mission, Golden Chaslis and Muscat. Charles became friends with Paul Heck through his dentist practice when Paul would bring the family in for regular check ups.
The two would occasionally chat about grapes and wine, sharing insight and advice. Envisioning the demand for premium wine grapes, Paul, encouraged Charles to plant Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In 1964, Charles began his plantings with six acres of each varietal. Eventually he obtained Pinot Noir bud wood from Karl Wente, the first well documented plantings of Pinot Noir in the Russian River Valley. Charles remembers Wente telling him the stock had come from France via the family’s old vineyard in Livermore. Charles and his son, John worked alongside each other, perfecting their viticulture techniques and expanding the vineyards. The Bacigalupi’s gained recognition as growers during the 1976 Paris tasting when the 1973 Napa Valley Chardonnay from Château Montelena with Bacigalupi fruit triumphed over many acclaimed French wines to be declared the undisputed winner.
This event was to be the turning point in America’s global wine image. That same block of Chardonnay used to produce this worldly renowned wine is still in existence today and has been managed for the past 53 years by the family. The John Tyler label is the realization of a dream for a family that has roots in the wine industry stretching over four generations. Looking towards the future the family hopes to continue their legacy of premium grape growing and wine making for many years to come.