Cheryl Emmolo, owner and founder of Emmolo Wine Company, was born into the wine business that has grown up around her in Napa Valley in recent decades.
Her grandfather, Salvatore Emmolo, had established a rootstock nursery in St. Helena in 1923. The stone winery that he built on Galleron Road still stands, but was never used – a victim of Prohibition but still a part of Napa Valley’s historic landscape. Cheryl's father, Frank Emmolo, took over management of his father’s nursery. At the same time – and continuing today – he grew grapes on his 43-acre vineyard, known as "River Ranch," in the prestigious Rutherford District. As a young girl, Cheryl helped her father by driving the tractor and assisting with other viticultural tasks in that vineyard.
The Emmolo's had planted Sauvignon Blanc on the River Ranch vineyard, on Mee Lane, in the 1950’s fortunately on phylloxera-resistant St. George rootstock. Frank Emmolo selected the same St. George rootstock when, in 1990, he planted Merlot on 2.4 acres at a second family vineyard site on Galleron Road. Over the years, Frank has supplied grapes to a number of top Napa Valley wineries, including the Robert Mondavi Winery and the Hess Collection. The Sauvignon Blanc has also historically been a part of Caymus Vineyards’ white wine program.
In 1994, Cheryl founded Emmolo Wine Company for two key reasons: to fulfill a lifelong ambition to make her own wine and to extend her family’s legacy to her three children, Charlie, Joey and Jenny Wagner. It is no surprise that Cheryl was able to secure from her father the crème de la crème of his Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot grapes for her small production. On the first day of harvest for Emmolo's first vintage, in 1994, Cheryl and her three children celebrated their new family enterprise by picking grapes and trucking them to the crush pad together.