Donatoni Winery Story: Donatoni wine making began in a little village called Ossenigo in the valley of the upper Adigi river of northern Italy. In fact Hank's Aunt lives in the family home depicted on our Sangiovese label and still grows pinot grigio to sell to the cooperative.

Hank learned to make wine when the property he bought had 1 and 1/2 acres of vines already ripening. Since he was flying to New York that month as a DC-8 co-pilot, he went to Little Italy and bought a book on how to make wine. Of course this opened a whole new world. Soon he was taking classes at Davis, bought his first Paso Robles grapes in 1969 and helped start an amateur wine club called Cellermasters. Originally some of the members learned to make wine in Hank's basement.

As his wine making skills increased, so did his desire to have more then a home winery. He found the perfect place where the runway at 2.5 right ended at LAX. He opened his doors in 1979 to the Donatoni Winery.


Over the years many wonderful times were had in that winery along with some award winning wines that were created. Hank's clientele consisted of friends, including many of the airline crews and employees he met along the way, wine clubs from Hughes Aircraft, Lockheed, Northrop, TRW, etc. and word of mouth customers. His Uncles and family ran the destemmer and press, transferred the juice to tanks and barrels, helped bottle, label, foil and all the things you do to make wine. As time went on friends joined in the labor and fun, knowing they would work hard, laugh a lot, drink some great beer to make that good wine and share in some mighty fine wine in the process. The winery was open only when Hank was in town and by appointment only.

 

Along with parties for retiring crew members, there were benefits staged (quite successfully we might add), holiday parties, union gatherings, and any number of celebrations. Anyone who knew Hank knew they were in for a great time.

Hank always bought Paso Robles grapes and participated in the first 13 years of the Paso Robles Wine Festival in May, pouring at the Growers booth. Each time he would come to Paso Robles he would look at property, always thinking how much he would love to live here. Finally in 2000 he got his wish and bought some property with a home and a 3 sided barn. That barn would become the new Donatoni Winery which opened for business in 2004.

Hank and Sandi are the only employees. Both worked for the airline. She flew as a flight attendant, purser for 37 years and Hank flew as a pilot for 36, The whole theme of the winery is airline because they spent their lives in a business they loved. Hank says he never had a job. Sandi did have a job. She was on the other side of that cockpit door and dealt with the daily problems as a flight attendant and purser of the flight. She loved her job (almost) all the time! It was a wonderful career.

We both enjoy our lives. We loved flying and we love living in Paso Robles. People visit from all over and we actually have been to many of those places. We can talk about what we did, sightseeing, the restaurants, shopping, the fun things. They seem to enjoy our theme. We both flew the 747-400 much of the last part of our careers. We both retired on the same flight, 10 years apart, the same month and it was a 747-400 inbound from Sydney, Australia, in June.

Our logo is a 747 with a corkscrew. Of course we have a "D" on the tail. Our wine club is called Capt. Hank's. Welcome Aboard! We hope we make your flight through our beautiful wine country as pleasant as possible. Just sit back, buckle up and enjoy the ride!


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