What started as a few friends crushing some grapes for fun is now an award-winning premium wine known around the country, but one thing will never change: Amici is a wine created by friends, for friends.
In the 1990's, a group of friends with a passion for good wine and fun times together crushed a few tons of grapes in the Napa Valley for our personal cellars. The resulting wine was so well-received that we started producing wine the very next year to share with the public. We chose to name the wine, appropriately, Amici ("friends" in Italian).
Amici's owners — John Harris and Bob and Celia Shepard — are all great friends with a passion for making and enjoying great wine. At Amici we focus on quality, not quantity. Because we insist on keeping our production small, we can carefully control the process of creating each wine, crafting what we like to consider a small work of art in each bottle.
Sometimes life brings you full circle, to a place you have been before. While studying marine biology at University of California Davis, Tony Biagi enrolled in an enology course for pleasure, a pivotal moment that summoned memories of small batch winemaking with his father, family gathered around the table sharing conversation and hand-crafted Cabernets. He was instantly hooked.
Shifting his focus from oceans to vineyards, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Enology and Fermentation Sciences. A sixth generation Californian, Tony has always felt most at home when outside, working with his hands.
Now a veteran winemaker in the Napa Valley, Tony's career spans more than two decades. He credits his success to his long-standing relationships with some of the regions most presigious growers, generations of grape growing who have farmed the land for decades, and to those before him, like winemakers Tom Rinaldi, Bob Levy, and Larry Levin.
Tony has helped shape a number of notable Napa Valley wineries including CADE, Clos Du Val, Hourglass, Paraduxx, Plumpjack, and Sinegal Estate; he's widely recognized for creating elegantly balanced, terroir-driven wines. He strongly believes that his role as a winemaker includes a responsibilty to educate the next generation of rising stars, a mentor-apprentice relationship that's essential to not only making excellent wines, but also to the future success of a healthy industry.
In 2015, Tony became the winemaker for Amici Cellars and Olema. Working alongside winemaker Jesse Fox since 2016, Tony and his team follow the philosophy that great wines are made in the vineyard. Whether crafting his own interpretation of Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa's historic To Kalon Vineyard for Amici Cellars, or sourcing fruit from Côtes de Provence to create the Olema Rosé, Tony's method of small batch winemaking remains the same — separately ferment and age individual vineyard blocks to create the best possible expression of each vineyard, each year.
For Tony, the goal is simple — craft a wine he and his winemaking team enjoy drinking and be confident others will enjoy it as well.
An avid adventurer and athlete, when not in the vineyard or cellar, he's often found cycling, golfing,and playing in the St. Helena Adult Softball League.
With a winemaking perspective shaped by some of the world's most celebrated wineries and restaurants, Jesse Fox joined the Amici Cellars and Olema team in 2016. He is currently Winemaker for both brands where he works with fellow Amici Cellars and Olema Winemaker Tony Biagi.
A Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef with a Hospitality Business degree from Cornell University, Jesse originally pursued a lifelong culinary calling with stints at acclaimed restaurants around the country.
Jesse settled in the Napa Valley after earning a coveted role working alongside Chef Thomas Keller at The French Laundry. Riveted by Napa's wine community, after only one-year Jesse decided to hang up his chef whites to pursue his new passion — winemaking.
Prior to joinging the Amici Cellars team, Jesse spent over a decade at Harlan Estates, The Napa Valley Reserve and Ram's Gate Winery. He has also worked at wineries in Argentina and New Zealand. As Winemaker for Amici Cellarsand Olema, Jesse focuses on terrior and understanding the soils of their various vineyard sources. He works with Tony to implement winemaking techniques, fine-tune blends, and manage quality during bottling. From discovering vineyards for Olema to meticulously crafting Amici Cellars' single vineyard wines, Jesse's philosophy is that all great wines begin in the vineyard. He is involved in cultivating grower relationships and works directly with the growers from whom Amici Cellars and Olema source fruit.
Attributing his attention to detail and focus on superb quality to his years in the kitchen, Jesse's ultimate goal is to create balanced wines that are complex and multi-dimensional.
Outside of the winery, Jesse enjoys cooking for his family, road biking and hiking. Jesse lives in Napa with his wife Julia and their children, Asher and Ella.