Team Bios

Bob Blue

Bob Blue

Lead Winemaker

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Bob Blue

Lead Winemaker

Bob Blue is a pioneer in the organic wine arena and the founding winemaker for Bonterra, with deep roots in Mendocino’s vineyards. Ironic, given that he grew up in a family of tee‐totalers in Lake County, California. His first taste of wine, in fact, happened on another continent. Bob joined the Army after high school and his world was opened when traveling through Germany as a GI. After graduating from UC-Davis, Bob joined Mendocino County’s McDowell Valley Vineyards and progressed through the lab and cellar.

In l988 Bob joined what he now calls “Fetzer University,” where he apprenticed and was mentored by legendary California winemakers Paul Dolan and Dennis Martin. He traveled to Bordeaux and Burgundy, and on to Australia and the Rhone, broadening his knowledge and sense of style. As General Manager of Fetzer’s Hopland Winery, he continued to influence winemaking and was made Red Varietal Winemaker before being name Winemaker for Bonterra.

Beyond Bonterra: Bob is a passionate table tennis player. He even has a table tennis robot, which has trained him to play ambidextrously!

Jeff Cichocki

Jeff Cichocki

Winemaker

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Jeff Cichocki

Winemaker

Born in Ohio and raised in southern California, Jeff headed north to Sonoma State University to earn a degree in Environmental Studies at a time when it was an emerging field rife with opportunity.

But Jeff was in Sonoma, and the lure of the vine is great. Especially if you’re an environmental planner who wants to dig even deeper into the local ecology. He began his transition as an apprentice in the cellar of Mill Creek Winery in Healdsburg, moving quickly to Cellar Master at Matanzas Creek Winery in Bennett Valley. Jeff’s theme was seeking out small family wineries that crafted fine wines with an eye towards being good stewards to the environment.

He moved on to Cakebread Cellars in Napa and B.R. Cohn in Sonoma Valley before taking on winemaking duties at Mendocino’s Jeriko Estate Winery in Hopland, a winery, not far from Bonterra’s McNab Ranch, that produces a variety of certified organic wines.

Jeff joined the team at Bonterra in 2007 and has been an incredible – and ongoing –wealth of knowledge and inspiration for our group.

Beyond Bonterra: Jeff’s three desert island songs? High and Dry –  Radiohead, Simple Song – Shins, Do You Realize? – Flaming Lips (all enjoyed with a nice beer, of course!)

Dave Koball

Dave Koball

Director of Research & Education

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Dave Koball

Director of Research & Education

Dave spearheads influential educational and regulatory initiatives that continue to place Bonterra at the forefront of one of the world’s leading organic wineries. Dave developed deep expertise in organic viticulture as Bonterra’s Director of Vineyards, a post he held for fifteen years. He said of the experience: “I quickly realized that to farm organically in a sustainable manner I had to change my approach to the ‘problems’ that arose in the vineyard and to think more systematically.”

Dave’s educational roots run deep. He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Plant Science, with a concentration in plant pathology, from UC Davis, and also holds a Master’s Degree in Plant Pathology from Cornell. At Bonterra, he draws on his rich background and education to spearhead a variety of important research projects, working with educational institutions, governments and sustainability groups, and other stakeholders to develop insights for improving quality in vineyards and reducing environmental footprints.

Beyond Bonterra: Dave is a tequila aficionado and loves great tequila, neat – unless he’s making on of his famous Cucumber and Jalapeño Margaritas.

Matt Tollini

Matt Tollini

Organic Vineyard Manager

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Matt Tollini

Organic Vineyard Manager

Matt is a lifelong resident of Mendocino County and grew up in the family business, Tollini Vineyards of Redwood Valley. He managed vineyard operations for organically farmed ranches totaling over 100 acres and over time, operated all vineyard equipment such as forklifts, backhoes, D-2 tractors, and ATVs. He claims to have driven his first tractor at the age of ten!

Matt attended Mendocino College where he studied Viticulture and General Education. When not in the vineyards, Matt enjoys hunting and fishing, and spending time with his kids and his Chocolate Lab, Moose.

Beyond Bonterra: Matt’s signature dish is his famous spaghetti which he enjoys preparing with a refreshing beer in hand!