The Del Dotto family name appears as far back as the 12th century Venice, and by 1450 the family had moved to Carignano, Tuscany, where the family heritage of making red wine began in earnest. In the late 1800s, Dominic Del Dotto moved his family from Tuscany to Merced, California, seeking new opportunities and a new life. Dominic began producing wine, storing the barrels under his house in lieu of a cellar. His youngest son John grew up sharing Dominic’s passion for wine, and made sure to pass this love on to his children, especially his son David. David grew to be an avid wine collector, and in 1988 he purchased a 17-acre property in Rutherford, and in 1990 continued the 800-year old Del Dotto legacy by planting new root stock of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Sangiovese in Napa.
Gary Galleron was hired as winemaking consultant, and by the mid-nineties, Wine Spectator Magazine had given their first four vintages the prestigious 92 point rating. In an effort to further improve the quality of the wine, Nils Venge was hired to consult in 1997. Venge was the first American to receive the perfect 100 point score from Robert Parker for his 1985 Groth Cabernet Reserve. By the 1997 harvest, Del Dotto increased production from 500 to 5000 cases. Two years later they opened the winery’s historic caves – dug by Chinese laborers in 1885 using only pick axes and shovels – to the public, featuring their now-famous Barrel Tasting Experience.
In the mid-2000s, Del Dotto expanded their winemaking team, hiring Robbie Meyer to oversee production of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, cellar master Joaquin Montanez, and winemaker Gerard Zanzonico. Zanzonico was eager to tackle Dave’s adventurous ideas: using different combinations of yeasts and barrel types in order to enhance the flavors in the newest vintage of Cabernet. They utilized over 50 different barrel types from a multitude of cooperages. Always the trailblazer, Dave developed the 9-Oaks barrel, which uses alternating staves of oak from nine different forests in France. Today, Del Dotto consistently rates 90-97 points, making it one of the highest rated wineries open for public tastings. Although still a small family-run winery, they produce between 8,000 and 12,000 cases annually.