Italian Wines are in Jeannine’s Blood
Palissandro Vineyards and Winery is the dream of Shaun and Jeannine Blaylock. While we had no experience in wine making or farming, we did (and still do) have a passion for wine consumption. Starting from when Jeannine was a little girl, her Grandfather made wine for the family. Nonno, as grandfathers are called in Italian, had come to the United States from Catania, Sicily when he was 17 years old. He purchased Zinfandel grapes from the hills of Milpitas and did a custom crush each year at a local winery. Two to three barrels were made annually for personal consumption and to share with family and friends. He aged the wine in whisky barrels purchased from the Joseph George Distillery. Nonno taught Jeannine’s dad how to make wine and Jeannine has fond memories of the family working together during the fall crush. Like many good things, the family wine making came to an end when Jeannine’s parents divorced.
A Simpler Life
Flash forward several years and Shaun is working himself to death in the corporate world. One day, Jeannine places a superimposed photo of a hearse pulling a U-Haul on Shaun’s desk with a caption that said “You’ll never see a hearse pull a U-Haul”.
Shortly thereafter, Shaun and Jeannine decided they wanted a simpler lifestyle. Shaun convinced his partners to buy him out and they began on a journey to fulfill their dream. They flew to Idaho at the end of January 2009 to explore cattle ranches. As they waited in the Boise airport on President Obama’s first inauguration day, Jeannine informed Shaun that Idaho was just too cold for a native California girl. In the spring of that same year, after helping a neighbor prune his Barbara grapes, the neighbor informed Shaun and Jeannine that the property directly in front of his winery was in foreclosure and that he knew the trustee. The idea was very intriguing, so Shaun and Jeannine set out on the path to purchase the foreclosed property. We moved in on Labor Day weekend 2009.
The Journey Begins
The Journey began as our first wines were made in the fall crush of 2009, literally by hand. Shaun and Jeannine spent many days and nights discovering what kind of wine style we wanted to produce. After many samples, we landed on the wine style of Northern Italy. These wines lend themselves to being fruit forward, having a full mouth feel and finishing softly (minimal tannins). We purchased our first grapes from growers in the El Dorado and Amador counties. The fruit was crushed, bin fermented, and pressed by hand using a basket press. We selected each yeast for what qualities we wanted to achieve in the wine and then barrel fermented our reds in French Oak for 24 months. Shaun became a ‘mad apprentice’ in the making of the wines and continues to expand his knowledge each year. In addition to learning wine making, Shaun has donned his farmer’s hat and has learned a great deal about growing and care of the vines.
The Name Game
Coming up with a name for the winery is no simple task. With Shaun’s heritage being Scandinavian and Norwegian, using our last name of Blaylock was really not an option. We knew that we had a love of roses and that they would play a predominant role in our landscaping. We had thought Rosewood would be a nice name for the winery. Our friends thought it was too commercial sounding and that we should have an Italian name for the winery being that we were making all Italian wines. We bought an Italian-English translator and began playing with various English words looking for a great Italian translation. Nothing seemed to work; in sheer desperation, Jeannine put in Rosewood into the translator and up popped ‘Palissandro’. We immediately loved the name and knew that we had found the name of our winery.
A Family Affair
One of the things that we (and many of our customers) enjoy most about the winery is that it really is a family affair. Both Brandon and Lauren have taken a complete interest in the wine and sharing the results in the tasting room. Brandon has completed his third and last apprenticeship in the fall of 2013 with a larger, local winery. Brandon worked as an assistant wine maker with Shaun and a consultant in 2013. By 2014, Brandon has taken over the primary wine making responsibilities with the help of a new consultant. Lauren loves the business side of the winery, helping with making the wine, and working the tasting room. She has completed pursuing her education and working toward her AA degrees in Wine Business and Enology at Santa Rosa JC and has returned to work full time at the winery. We are certain you will enjoy her enthusiasm and knowledge that she has gained when you visit with her in the tasting room.