MagnaVita Cellars began out of an ancestral love of the grape & the process of winemaking. When I was a little kid, my Aunt Vie had a cool looking wooden wheelbarrow on her porch. It was painted green & she had a variety of potted plants & flowers inside. The wheelbarrow looked like nothing I had seen in a store, so I asked here where it came from. She told me about my Great-Great Grandfather, Dominico Magnavita & his winemaking history.
Dominico Magnavita arrived in NY in the midst of WWI. Grapegrowing & winemaking was a part of his heritage back in Calabria, Italy, but after coming to America to seek a better life, he found himself surrounded by concrete, tall buildings & the bustle of city living. The family settled in a small apartment in Brooklyn, NY in the area known as Canarsie. Dom yearned for the opportunity to return back to the agricultural life of his youth & eventually discovered that winegrapes were being delivered to NY from California. Each fall, he would take that same wheelbarrow over to the Brooklyn Terminal Market & bring back loads & loads of fresh grapes to crush & make wine for friends & family. His dream was to eventually sell his wines & save enough money to move to California, purchase some land & start a vineyard of his own. The seasonal romps between the Terminal Market & their apartment would take up the whole day. Dom would take the 40 minute walk from his home to the Market & then back – dropping off a few hundred pounds of grapes, only to return a few hours later with the next load. At the end of the day, he would crush by foot & allow a natural fermentation to take place.
Dom’s dreams of starting his own commercial winery were put on hold when Prohibition became US law in 1920, but he continued his seasonal winemaking which was allowed under the Volstead Act, permitting small amounts of fruit wines to made at home. He would share his wines with friends, family and the local church for sacramental purposes. He continued this practice year after year, but sadly one harvest season would not be completed. Shortly before the repeal of Prohibition, Dominico made his yearly pilgrimage to the Brooklyn Terminal Market for his first load of fresh California grapes. On his way back to the apartment, he was fatally struck down by a truck & died instantly. Although Dom did not survive, his hand cart did & it remains in the family to this day. Now that we have finally made it to California to start our own winery & to continue to pursue Dominico Magnavita’s dream of developing our own vineyard, we have chose Dominico’s cart as the emblem of our winery & our philosophy.
Magnavita Cellars is about small production of traditionally made wines. We source grapes from family vineyards throughout Northern California, many of who maintain their vineyards for the sheer passion of quality grape production, with a focus on unique varietals & bygone production methods. I love to experience wines that step outside of the normal bounds of the prevailing styles that are often found the market, so our goal is to create affordable, enjoyable wines that are also interesting & individualistic. We make our wines to drink & enjoy everyday. We hope you’ll join us!