The Gianoli family immigrated from Italy and homesteaded the ranch in 1882, planting 20 acres of Zinfandel. Reachable only by miles of old dirt road winding through dense forests of Redwood and Douglas fir, the 75-acre ranch sits at an elevation of about 1,900 feet, which almost always places it well above the thick fogs below.
Planted in the late 1800s by Santo and Rosie Perli, immigrants from Italy, Perli is located in the vast Mendocino Ridge appellation. The vineyards range from 1,800 to 2,200 feet above sea level. Only seven miles from the Pacific Ocean, it is above the fogline on most days. The grapes are planted on very steep slopes, giving the fruit unusual concentration and intensity, with tiny, low-yielding berries packing plenty of flavor.
The 2,900-foot elevation of this comparatively young (planted in 2001) vineyard makes it one of the highest in Mendocino County. The threat of Spring frosts and a short growing season definitely result in “on the edge” grapegrowing. The vineyard is part of a 17,000-acre ranch of forest and grassland that runs 300 head of cattle.
Ric Piffero’s grandfather, Vitorio, bought and cleared the land, which reminded him of his native Lake Como region, in 1930, using a horse, blasting powder and his bare hands. His wife, Rose, planted the original Zinfandel and Carignan vines, and most of those old vines are still productive today.