WINDSOR, Calif., September 22, 2020 – William (Bill) Bonetti passed away on September 7, 2020 in Healdsburg at the age of 94. Raised in the northern Italian alps and educated at the venerable Conegliano School of Viticulture, he brought a traditional and formal winemaking background to America at the age of 22.
After years of honing his craft alongside the icons of the day, Bonetti’s crowning achievement was the design and operation of Sonoma-Cutrer, where he served as its first winemaker in 1981. Bill was selected for his wealth of knowledge, experience and passion for world class Chardonnays, and he was instrumental in creating a state-of-the-art winery with a winemaking philosophy that continues to this day. During his tenure, he hosted the first Focus on Chardonnay colloquiums with premier California and French burgundy producers, stimulating open industry discussion, advancing the Chardonnay industry and forging strong relationships. Bonetti retired from Sonoma-Cutrer in 1990 and left a legacy not only at Sonoma-Cutrer and in Sonoma County, but in the California wine-making industry.
“Bill was really one of the unsung icons in the California wine industry, having brought old world techniques to our fledgling industry and applying new world innovation to them,” said Sonoma-Cutrer Director of Winemaking, Mick Schroeter. “We continue to use and follow the techniques and principles in making world class Chardonnay first introduced to Sonoma-Cutrer by Bill in 1981,” Mick adds. “It was a true honor to have known and worked with Bill on our Legacy Chardonnay in 2013 and again recently on an upcoming release.”
In 2021, Sonoma-Cutrer will celebrate its 40th anniversary, a milestone that would not be possible without Bill’s winemaking expertise. Mick asked that Bill and his protege Terry Adams join the current winemaking team in selecting the wine blend for a special commemorative bottling. Set to be released next May, it will not only be a celebration of the brand but also a tribute to Bill and his legacy.
Bill received many professional accolades and honors throughout his time as a winemaker in the industry. In 1987 he joined the Wine Spectator’s “California Wine Pioneers.” Humble and understated, Bill also worked in the European model and firmly believed that “in order to permit a wine to express its heritage, the winemaker cannot allow himself to intrude.” His passion for wine was an inspiration to all who knew him.
Bill Bonetti Obituary: https://www.tributearchive.com/obituaries/18306724/William-Bonetti
Sonoma-Cutrer has been crafting wines since 1981 in the esteemed Russian River Valley growing region of Sonoma County, California. Our flagship wine Russian River Ranches was built in the on-premise and for almost 40 years has dominated the Most Popular Chardonnay wine lists. Our winemaking process is designed specifically to preserve the highest quality grapes, and the wines are aged in barrels made of specific French oak trees that are individually-selected to fit the winemakers’ needs. All Sonoma-Cutrer wines can be purchased through our online store and wine club, Club Cutrer. For more information about our wines, how to purchase or to join Club Cutrer, please visit www.sonomacutrer.com or visit Facebook at www.facebook.com/sonomacutrervineyards.