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 Owen
Wine Club + Sales 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! Her professional background in marketing and project management, coupled with her love of storytelling and hospitality serve her daily as she manages the Wine Club and hospitality program with her furry sidekick, Burt Reynolds. Past and current community involvement include Big Brothers Big Sisters, Wine Country Chicks, and the Napa Valley Hospitality Forum. She is also the proud Mama of the first extended Fontababy, Marley – born right in the middle of harvest 2018!

 
"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 Bowers
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. When she’s not taking care of our work family, she is taking care of new baby Elliott (born in October 2020) and kitties McCovey and Daphne.

 

 

 

Paige Smith  

Tasting Room Manager

Paige, a Napa native, grew up a Fontanella neighbor on a vineyard property just down the road from the winery. After running her family fashion business in downtown Napa, Cake Plate boutique, she jumped right into the swing of things here at the winery as our Tasting Room Manager! With her merchandising, hospitality, directing, and sales background – not to mention her megawatt smile and love of wine – she and her fur baby, Dolly Parton, look forward to greeting you on your next visit with a splash of Chardonnay! When she’s not at the winery or playing with her pack of nieces, Paige has served her community producing and chairing the annual Queen of the Valley Cancer Wellness Fashion Show Fundraiser.
 

 

Carolanne Marx

Assistant Winemaker

While taking a year off between undergrad and medical school to travel through France, Carolanne took a job working at a vineyard to make some extra cash – and fell in love with wine! After several years in France getting her Master’s Degree and doing everything from lab work to blending to viticulture, she continued to expand her international winemaking portfolio with a harvest in Chile, ultimately landing in the Napa Valley in 2015 where she worked with Staglin and Tamber Bey. Carolanne joined the Fontanella family as our first Assistant Winemaker in 2018, and yes, she can do her job in both French and Spanish!

 

Octavio Rodriguez & Rigoberto Olivera
Cellar Crew

Octavio ("Tabio" to us) has been with us the longest - since 2010. 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 (or, in our case, dogs). Meet the four-legged crew:

Hobie

Director of First Impressions

After the heartbreaking loss of our Labs, Payton & Riley (see below), we swore we'd never get another dog...but then a twist of fate landed us the opportunity to welcome a Golden Retriever puppy into our family in the Summer of 2019, and we said yes! 

 

Trigger

GM (General Mischief)

Hobie is Trigger's half-sister, and where Hobie is sweet and mellow, Trigger is a spitfire! Named both for her front white paw (her trigger finger!) and her spunk, you'll find her getting into everything she shouldn't!

 

 

Piper Fontanella

Tiny Dictator

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

Chief Barking Officer

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

 

 

Dolly Parton

Director of Spa Services

Dolly is Paige's fur baby, named for her petite body and barrel chest! A Boston Terrier/Pug (or "Bugg"), Dolly will hop right up on your lap and kiss you until you cry Uncle!

 
 

 

Payton and Riley Fontanella

Chief Culinary Consultant + Human Resources

Payton our Queen Canine had been with Jeff and Karen since they got engaged to be married in 2003. While we lost Payton in body in May of 2017, she is still very much with us in spirit!

Riley was our resident squirrel catcher, wanderluster and grape sampler. If you'd met him near the end of his 16-years, given his energy and spunk, you wouldn't think he was a day over five…although his grey muzzle said otherwise. He joined the Fontanella clan in 2005 when Jeff and Karen bought the property, and went to that great vineyard in the sky in 2018.