The Story, David Scheidt, Sole Proprietor and Winemaker
Founded by David Scheidt in 2007, the winery is named for his ancestors – the Mastrogiacomos, shortened to Mastro at Ellis Island, on his mother’s side, who immigrated to Fresno from Southern Italy in the early 1900s, and the Scheidts on his father’s, Prussians who arrived around the same time from the Volga River valley. David’s family instilled a deep and abiding love of cooking and wine from a very early age.
The Path to Wine … a long and winding road
Having grown up with wine a staple at the table, as a young man David explored the California wine regions with keen interest, developing a serious interest in the craft of wine making, the wine business and the vineyards around Healdsburg. With a BS in Finance from CSU Fresno, he first established a successful career as a financial analyst. But inspiration and desire emerged from a family trip to Italy in 2004 with brother John and cousin Marco, and the lure of wine making took hold. The three toured from Tuscany to Campania, and, on a last night in Rome, cooking, drinking and talking late into the night, enlightenment arrived: one of them had to carry on the family tradition of winemaking. David returned to his corporate finance career, with a determination to get himself into the wine industry at the earliest possible opportunity.
Mastro Scheidt begins…by diving in the deep end
As David explored the wines of Sonoma County from Knights Valley in the north, along the Sonoma Coast to Sonoma Valley, he also got to know the people behind the wines and behind the vineyards. Long before he made his first wine, he had identified his favorite vineyard sites and wine styles – most of them in Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley. In the spirit of experimentation, he crafted his first wine at a custom crush pad, where “watch..learn…do” was his initial wine making approach. The 2007 Cabernet sat in bottle for a few years while David dealt with the Great Recession of 2008.
David returned to Italy in 2009, to refine his skills as a cook and to learn more about traditional winemaking. He explored the subtleties and simplicity of Italian cooking in the kitchens of Tuscany, Puglia, Liguira and Emilia Romagna. He had the opportunity to work the Italian harvest at a small family farm in Ugento, Puglia, where Antonio of Masseria Gianferrante let him get his hand dirty.
“There was no chemistry lab, no oak barrels, no pad,” David recalls from his time in Italy. “There were no written instructions, no protocols, only tradition. This traditional technique was something I never had growing up — the tradition that was passed down from generation to generation.”
Back in Sonoma County, David crafted three small Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings that Fall of ‘09, this time incorporating some of the things he had learned in Italy, but also with a clearer wine style in mind. “I started to define the style I wanted to make at Mastro Scheidt that year.”