Irv Bliss was a master farmer who grew pears, prunes and walnuts and tended a large garden outside Healdsburg in Sonoma County. He'd always dreamt of planting a vineyard in Mendocino County, a region he considered the best for growing wine grapes, and realized that dream when he purchased land there in 1943. When Irv's daughter, Martha married Leonard Brutocao (whose family had immigrated to California from Treviso, Italy in 1910), the Bliss' and Brutocaos joined forces and continued to sell grapes to wineries in Sonoma and Napa for many years until they started making wine of their own. After Irv had farmed the Bliss Vineyard for 35 years, Leonard took over running the business and they released their first wine for family and friends in 1980. Eleven years later, the united families built a winery and produced their first estate bottled wines with the 1991 vintage. Leonard and Martha's three sons joined the business with David as the Director of Winemaking Operations, Len as Director of Vineyard Operations and Steve as CEO. The fourth generation is now involved and the Brutocao Family Vineyards span 344 acres with the addition of the Feliz, Contento and Philo Vineyards which are all sustainably farmed.
The Brutocaos produce a total of 20 different wines across three lines: the ‘Classic Series’ made from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, the ‘Reserve Series’ with reserve bottlings of most of those varietals and the ‘Italian Series’ about which they are most passionate and which involves Dolcetto, Sangiovese, Barbera and Primitivo. This 2014 Primitivo comes from their hillside Contento Vineyard on the very fertile land of a former cattle ranch. It was 50% whole cluster pressed, fermented in stainless steel tank and aged in 15% new French oak barrels for 18 months. Aromas on the nose are robust, suggesting ripe, almost baked, sun-drenched Zinfandel-like plummy notes with fragrant clove spice; however, the fruit on the medium-bodied palate is surprisingly less intense and very well balanced offering tasty, more even-keeled red plum and blackberry flavors. The wine ends with a light grip, some baking spice, a dash of white pepper and a little hint of sandalwood on a well-executed finish of "blackberry, milk chocolate and espresso bean" as Winemaker, David Brutocao suggests.