The Renzoni Family
“Everything that we do is based on family traditions & heritage. We believe that wine should be — and our wine will be — known for the region from which it originates, rather than its varietal composition.”
Robert Renzoni, Proprietor
Born in Buffalo, New York, Robert Renzoni began his career there and is one of the few vintners in Temecula who has dedicated his entire professional life to the wine industry. In 1989 he became the fourth generation of Renzonis to succeed in the wine business.
Throughout most of the last century, the Renzoni family has been involved in some aspect of the wine business. Robert’s family owned and operated a wholesale wine and liquor distributorship named Italian & French Wine Company in New York. His great grandfather Federico and his great, great uncle Romeo Battistoni began this company in 1933. His grandfather Domenic joined the company in 1934 and his father Frederick followed in 1959. The Renzoni family decided to exit the wine and liquor business after 61 incredible years, and sold the company in 1994.
In 1996, Robert moved to Los Angeles and worked for various wine distributorships and a distillery until 2003; though he enjoyed his career, he felt that something was missing.
In 2004, Robert relocated to the beautiful Temecula Valley Wine Country and decided to return to his roots in the wine industry. Robert immediately became the Sales Manager for a small family winery named Leoness Cellars and used his knowledge of the business to successfully market Leoness and build its business. Within a short time, Leoness Cellars became one of the most visited wineries in the Temecula Valley.
In 2006, Robert decided to take his experience with the Renzoni family business and Leoness Cellars and venture out on his own. Today, he devotes his time to realizing his dream of developing Robert Renzoni Vineyards & Winery into a world-class wine estate.
Fred’s introduction to the California wine business came at the young age of 9, when he traveled from Buffalo, New York with his father Domenic and great uncle Romeo to spend six weeks touring Napa, Sonoma and the San Joaquin Valley. The trio journeyed to California to buy grapes and wine for the family wine distributorship in upstate New York. Fred so enjoyed his first visit to California that he vowed he would someday return permanently.
Fred joined the family wine and liquor business, The Italian and French Wine Company, after graduating from college. There he developed many ideas and innovations during his thirty-five year tenure, successfully expanding the business from Buffalo to most of New York State. From 1972 to 1994, as company president, Fred oversaw a business that multiplied their sales tenfold. In a market filled with dessert wines and popular semi-sweet wines and wine coolers, Fred successfully developed and marketed many varietals across Upstate New York that are now well known staples of a burgeoning wine industry.
In 1999, with his wife, Julie, Fred finally kept the promise to himself he had made many years before. He returned to California, first moving to San Diego and then relocating to the Temecula Valley in 2004. In 2006, the Renzoni family bought 12 acres of land in Temecula to plant vineyards and build a winery.
After a fourteen year hiatus, he is proud to enter back into the family wine industry with his sons.
The young son of Italian immigrants, Domenic journeyed to America in 1912. His family ultimately settled in Buffalo, New York, then a melting pot of European immigrants that included Irish, Italians, Poles and Germans among many others. Domenic had an older brother, Renzo, and a younger sister, Assunta.
In 1934 he married Rose Salerno, and relinquished a higher paying job to join the family business with his father Federico and his uncle Romeo. As Prohibition had just ended, the business that would eventually become the Italian and French Wine Company developed quickly in Buffalo and successfully expanded into the remaining parts of Upstate New York.
Upon the death of his father, Federico, in 1938, Domenic inherited his father’s interest in the family business. It was that same year that Domenic’s son, Frederick, was born. Named for his grandfather, Frederick would eventually join the company in the late 1950s.
Domenic remained active in the family business until 1982, when Frederick assumed the position of President of the Italian and French Wine Company. An avid golfer his entire life, retirement enabled Dom, or “Tino” as he was sometimes known, to fully enjoy his passion for golf when he and Rose moved to Fort Myers, Florida. They resided there together until Rose’s death in 1994; Domenic continued to reside in Florida until his death in 2002.
Federico was born in 1870 in Fano, Italy, then a small village on Italy’s Adriatic coast. Federico began working in the vineyards near Fano at the age of 12 and at 16, he started making wine which he sold locally. However, Federico soon turned to the more lucrative field of commercial fishing. He worked as a commercial fisherman for a few years, however learned of the need for commercial fishermen in America. He immigrated to New London, CT in 1912 and worked there as a commercial fisherman for a couple of years before moving to New York.
Seizing an opportunity to go into business with his brother-in-law, Romeo Battistoni, Federico abandoned commercial fishing and relocated to Buffalo, NY to open a tavern and work in the wine and cordial business. He and Romeo were successful until 1918 when they were forced out of business by the laws of Prohibition. Because of Prohibition Federico and Romeo were forced into another line of work and turned to the home building business, where they were very prosperous for eleven years.
Their success was thwarted again in 1929, this time by the onset of the Great Depression. After Prohibition ended in 1933, Federico and Romeo returned to a variant of their first business venture together, this time in the form of a wine distributing company. Together, they founded the Italian and French Wine Company, named as such because the domestic wine industry was in ruins as a result of the prohibition of 1918-1934 and imported wines were all that were available for sale. Federico passed away in 1938, not living to see his company grow and prosper for the better part of the remaining century.
Frederick, Robert’s father, was born in 1938 and named after his grandfather, Federico.
Romeo Battistoni was one of the leading influences that led the Renzoni into the American wine business in the early part of the last century. Together with our great-grandfather, Federico, he established the family business that eventually would lead us to establishing Robert Renzoni Vineyards in Temecula, CA.
Romeo emigrated to America with his brother James in 1903 when he was just 17 years old. With little formal education and unable to speak the English language well, he began working at Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna, NY. He worked there for a couple of years until a fateful day when he saw a worker fall to his death into a molten pot of steel. Romeo left the steel industry and never looked back. He and James went on to open a bar in Buffalo, NY. Romeo and James operated their bar until Federico Renzoni, their cousin, joined them in America in 1912. Federico and Romeo started a business making wine and cordials, while Romeo continued to operate the bar. Both businesses ended when Prohibition began in 1918.
With Prohibition in place, Romeo and James were forced to find other vocations. James started importing products from Italy. As detailed in our Renzoni Family History page, Romeo and Federico entered the home construction industry. That business was very successful until the Great Depression in 1929.
As with many Americans, The Depression was difficult, so when Prohibition was lifted in 1933, Romeo and Federico returned to the wine industry, and formed the Italian and French Wine Company on December 5th of that year. They actively imported wines from Italy, France, and Germany, later expanding into California wines as the wine industry developed and grew.
Based in Buffalo, NY, the business thrived throughout the better part of the century. Romeo continued to be active and and a driving force in the business until his death in 1965.