About The Saini Family

Photo - John & Mike Saini

Saini Vineyards

Saini Vineyards is a story of two families, of partnerships and of friends between the Saini and the Christie families.

The Sainis are 4th generation Sonoma County grape growers that have been farming grapes in Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley for over 90 years. Renowned for their integrity, attention to detail and impeccable farming skills, it's their passion for quality coupled with their experience and familiarity with the land they farm that sets them apart from the rest.

Their legacy began in 1908, when Great Grandfather Micele Saini came to the United States from Genova, Italy.  He bought a farm in the Dry Creek Valley in 1917. While continuing to ride a horse and buggy to work in San Francisco as a garbage man, the farm produced such crops as pears, apples, prunes, and winegrapes. Wanting to enjoy the fruits of his labor, Micele became very skillful making wine in his basement that was good enough to be sold in San Francisco. Keeping in tradition, second generation Grandfather Eugene “Si” Saini partnered with his cousin Gene Cuneo (both their fathers were also partners), and bought a second ranch in the Alexander Valley in 1934. With impeccable farming skills, they built a solid reputation as grape growers, selling to some of the best wineries in Sonoma County.

Si passed all of his knowledge onto his son John, who would carry the family business into the 3rd generation. Saini Farms was created in 1984 with 300 acres of vineyards coupled with decades of experience that would set them apart from the rest.  It was John’s son Mike that dreamed of creating a wine brand of their own to showcase their most prized and recognized blocks which would propel them to a whole new level. In 2008, Mike recruited top winemakers and partnered with George Christie to be his Managing Partner.

George Christie was born and raised in New Jersey and moved to Sonoma County in 1991 where he met his wife Tami, a lifelong resident of Healdsburg. They have been a part of the wine industry ever since and have worked with some of the most iconic wineries in California, such as Korbel, Buena Vista, Kenwood and Clos du Bois.

George Christie and Mike Saini have been friends for nearly 20 years. Many times over the years they talked about starting a wine brand of their own and in the Fall of 2008 those conversations became a reality with the harvest of their first grapes destined for the Saini Vineyards program. The 4th generation of Saini Vineyards was the perfect collaboration of talent and timing with their first release of Zinfandel in 2008. In addition to Zinfandel, they now also produce small lots of Grenache and Sauvignon Blanc.

Mike didn’t realize that 2008 would symbolize more than the beginning of a new wine venture. He would also meet Laura, the love of his life. Laura quickly became part of the family business, taking on the role of Sales Manager. In 2012 and Mike and Laura welcomed their son Angelo into the world. Will Angelo become the 5th generation to carry on the family business? We hope so! It seems to run in the blood and why stop after 90 years?

Partnerships have been an integral part of the success for both the Saini and Christie families and the Saini Vineyards' wines are the next chapter in their story.

The Winemaker

Ashley Herzberg

Ashley Herzberg came to love wine early in her life. Her parents had a role in this, instilling in her the importance of cooking and eating together as a family and having wine on the table at mealtime. Despite this exposure, however, Ashley initially intended to attend medical school after earning her university degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. Four years of working in a hospital convinced her that medicine was not her calling, and modified her career goal by turning to the wine industry. Her background in science and engineering came in handy when she accepted a job as a laboratory technician at Owl Ridge Wine Services in Sebastopol.

At Owl Ridge, Ashley quickly moved up from Lab Technician to Lab Manager, benefiting from valuable mentoring by some of the top Pinot Noir vintners in California such as Merry Edwards, Greg Lafollette, Anthony Austin, and Scot Covington. Because it was a custom-crush facility with over 40 clients at the time, Owl Ridge provided her with the opportunity to gain the perspective and knowledge that would prove invaluable as she moved on in her career.

By mid-2007, Ashley found herself at Mauritson Wines as Enologist and soon was named Assistant Winemaker. She is now the Consulting Winemaker for Amista Winery, Bacigalupi Vineyards, and Saini Vineyards, all of which are in Sonoma County. Ashley is involved in crafting a number of varietals, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ashley enjosy camping, traveling and spending time with her two small children.