Long time friends renowned Winemaker Tom Rinaldi and Eric Risch have been working in the Napa Valley wine industry for many years. They both worked on the Pellet Estate project and when the opportunity presented itself, the two teamed up on their own project in 2019.
Initially, they intended on keeping the small production bottlings for themselves, but when COVID-19 pandemic affected their daily lives, they started to dedicate more time toward winemaking and created Patent Wines.
Patent Wines was formed to create exceptional wines of distinction & excellence from site specific vineyards within an AVA. From lengthy experience and know-how, paired with Bordeaux best practices honed over 45 harvests, Tom and Eric hand produce authentic wines.
Winemaker Tom Rinaldi was raised in San Francisco and made frequent trips to Napa on his motorcycle, buying wines directly from the wineries of the day. After four years in the Navy, Tom enrolled at UC Davis along with notable classmates Mike Martini, Tim Mondavi, Randy Dunn, and Bob Levy.
Tom’s career began at Freemark Abbey, an experience he calls “a great job, and a great honor.” In 1978, Tom became the founding winemaker at Duckhorn Vineyards. After 22 vintages of creating some of Napa’s most celebrated wines, Tom continued to build many wineries from the ground up, notably Pellet Estate, Provenance Vineyards and Hewitt. Tom’s 2010 Hewitt Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was named to the Wine Spectator’s Top 10 in the world for 2013, and the #1 Wine in California. Rinaldi’s 45+ years of Napa Valley wine experience enables him to produce wines that showcase his masterful blend of traditional French techniques with ultra-high premium fruit.
Tom leads all winemaking strategies and cellar responsibilities, vineyard selections and crop management, and masterfully assembles all final blends – bringing his art, science, and nature together in harmony and balance.
Always the avid learner, Tom loves everything from anticipating the vineyards’ seasons to experimenting with new methodologies and technologies, always open to innovative practices alongside traditional methods. Tom resides with his wife and daughter in St. Helena, where you will either find him in the vineyard, the cellar, or riding his bike throughout the Napa Valley.
Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Eric Risch was raised working in the family residential construction business, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems Management from the University of San Francisco, with careers at Wells Fargo Bank, the R&D division of Apple Computer, and Medior, Inc. In 1992, Eric founded an internet technology design and marketing firm, Grapevine, and grew the corporation to be one of the top eight web marketing firms in the Bay Area in just six years serving start-ups and Fortune 1000 companies.
At the turn of the millennium, he fulfilled his dream of living in the Napa Valley and moved with his three children to St. Helena. He returned to his entrepreneurial roots to pursue the wine business, and resurrected Pellet Estate – establishing its vision, legal, business and operational components. Eric also created the Pellet Estate brand & wine portfolio, which he continues to expand from its flagship Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, producing the Henry’s Reserve program, an Estate Merlot and Rose, and two styles of Chardonnay from the acclaimed Sun Chase Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap.
Eric oversees Patent Wine Company’s portfolio, operations, and sales and marketing, and vineyard relations. He enjoys every opportunity to connect with customers locally and at regional events all over the country, and appreciates hosting visitors for tastings and vineyard tours, often discussing his passion for wine and food. Eric currently serves on the Board of Directors for Appellation St. Helena, helping promote and advance St. Helena grape growing and winemaking.