Meet the Team

The extended Fontanella Family includes a team of amazing individuals who share the winery's commitment to excellence in winemaking and service. We make and sell wine for a reason... it's fun!

You're invited to come and meet us in person at the winery. Request an appointment here.

 

Jeff Fontanella
Owner/Winemaker

After majoring in Viticulture and Enology at the University of California at Davis, Jeff completed his first harvest at Opus One in 1998 – and he's been making wine in the Napa Valley ever since. When the Fontanellas opened their own winery in 2008, Jeff brought the experience he'd accumulated over his years spent at Opus One, ZD, and Saddleback to bring his own dream to fruition. Today, he shepherds our grapes from bud-break to bottle, crafting wines in his own signature style: wines that are approachable, balanced, and premium – without pretense.

 
"Great wines are grown. It takes creativity to envision the wine in the field, and to capture the potential of that vintage in the bottle. It's about confidence and the intimate knowledge of unique vineyards. Sometimes a bit of luck helps, but when wouldn't it?"

Karen Fontanella
Owner

When Karen graduated with a law degree from the University of San Diego in 2000, never in her wildest dreams did she imagine she'd be running a winery in Napa one day. However, her professional experience in business development, land use, and commercial real estate – coupled with her family spirit of entrepreneurship – armed Karen with the exact tools she uses today to run the daily business of Fontanella Family Winery. When she's not seeing to the day-to-day operations of the winery, you can find Karen running her two sons, John and Andrew around. Or enjoying a glass of Chardonnay on the patio with Jeff.

 
"Running our winery is not work for me, it's just who we are and what we do. We are so fortunate to do what we love everyday and work with an amazing team of passionate, hard-working, dedicated people."

Jennifer Marley
Wine Club and Tasting Room Manager

Jennifer arrived in Napa in early 2014 via Seattle, Los Angeles, DC, and Charlottesville. When she had her first sip of Jeff's Zinfandel, she decided she'd just stay on the patio until the Fontanellas hired her. It worked! Today, she manages the Wine Club and Tasting Room with her furry sidekick, Burt Reynolds.

 
"The August 24, 2014 earthquake was my second week on the job, and the amount of devastation to our winery was so immense, I wasn't sure I'd have a place to come to work. When I told Karen that I understood if she had to let me go, she said, 'That's not the way we work around here. You're family now.'"

Rachel Hauptfeld 
Queen of All Trades

While studying art in Santa Cruz, Rachel took a part-time tasting room job at a local winery just to make a few extra bucks and never looked back! Fast forward a couple years, she picked up and moved to Napa to pursue a career in wine. Starting as hospitality at Fontanella, Rachel now runs the back of show and bosses everyone around (just kidding). She's our Queen of all Trades in the office - you got the questions, she's got the answers. 

 

 

George Urquiola & Justin Twellmeyer
Cellar Crew

You may encounter George and Justin, our amazing production team, back on the crush pad or in the cellar. Justin went from underage harvest intern in 2012 to indispensable Production Assistant today, who seemingly has boundless energy as he heads from a hard day of work to a full night of classes in prep to attend UC Davis' famed winemaking program.

George knew he was destined for the wine industry when he became enamored by the history, geography, and science of wine while studying Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida.

 

Octavio Rodriguez & Rigoberto Olivera
Cellar Crew

Octavio ("Tabio" to us) has been with us the longest - 5 years total. When he's not taking apart and rebuilding the bottling line, hunting gophers, or filling barrels, he's playing soccer with his friends and chasing his 3 beautiful children around. 

Rigoberto is our newest addition, and is bringing a broad range of skills to our team: Rigo can drive a tractor, unclog a storm drain, maintain our estate vineyard - and his big smile and infectious laugh endeared him to us immediately. He is the proud dad to two darling children. 

 

Fontanella Four-leggers

No winery is complete without the quintessential winery dog. We are lucky enough to have four! Meet the four-legged crew:

Payton Fontanella

Our Queen Canine has been with Jeff and Karen since they got engaged to be married in 2003. Clocking in as our oldest employee, Payton is certainly the dog in charge around here.

 

Riley Fontanella

He's our resident squirrel catcher, wanderlust and grape sampler. Given his energy and spunk, you wouldn't think he was a day over five…although his growing grey muzzle says otherwise. He joined the Fontanella clan in 2005 when Jeff and Karen bought the property.

 

Piper Fontanella

Meet Piper - or as we call her, the Tiny Dictator. Don't let her size or her demure personality fool you...she quickly became the alpha in our house when she joined us in the summer of 2016 (she even bosses Jeff around!).

 

Burt Reynolds

Burt is the best "honorary" winery dog any place could ask for. Belonging to Jennifer Marley, Burt is always sprinting around telling the crew what to do and eager to greet every visitor.