POSTED ON December 18, 2012 | IN Wine News, Winemakers | BY Joe Becerra

St. Ignatius graduates who are winery owners or winemakers

In center Whitehall Lane G.M. Mike McLoughlin Class of 1979

St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco has produced a very impressive list of alums working in the world of wine. The Alumni Department at S.I. forwarded me this list of graduates affiliated with wineries in the Napa Valley, Sonoma and beyond. I find it fascinating that so many grads from S.I. are owners of wineries and/or winemakers. My guess is if you looked at other high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area you would not find anything close to matching that of the St. Ignatius group. Perhaps in the Napa Valley, where wine folks live and send their kids to high schools such as St. Helena High, you would expect a large connection from its graduates to wineries, but from a San Francisco City school, it is totally unexpected.

My friend Bob (a fellow alum and retired S.I. teacher and coach) and I paid a visit to Whitehall Lane Winery in St. Helena, owned by S.I. alum Tom Leonardini. We discussed the guys we each knew from S.I. who owned wineries and that prompted us to get a complete list from the Alumni Department at St. Ignatius High School. The list below shows the name of the winery, the individual, their graduation year, and their affiliation with the winery.

St. Ignatius High School grads making wine

  • Provenance Winery: Tom Rinaldi ’67 – Director of winemaking
  • Whitehall Lane: Tom Leonardini ’59 – Owner
  • Whitehall Lane: Mike McLoughlin ’79 – General Manager
  • Bohemian Vineyards: Tom Cleary ’79 – Owner
  • Highway 12: Paul Giusto ’90 – Co-Founder
  • Orsi Papale: Lawrence Papale ‘68 – Co-owner &
  • Orsi Papale: Berni Orsi ’68 – Co-owner
  • Mariah Vineyards: Dan Dooling ’69 -owner
  • Paradigm: Ren Harris ’59 – Owner
  • Cecchetti Wine Company: Roy Cecchetti ’75 – Owner
  • Fritz Family Wines: Jay Fritz ’58 & Clay Fritz ’90 – Owners
  • Lynmar Estate: Lynn Fritz ’60 – Owner
  • Taft Street: Mike Tierney ’63 – Owner
  • Round Pond: Miles MacDonald ’93 – Owner
  • Oakwild Ranch Toboni Vineyards: Joe Toboni ’70 – Owner
  • Mahoney Vineyards: Francis Mahoney ’63 – Owner
  • Cleary Ranch Vineyards: John Cleary ’75 – Owner
  • Orsianni: Fred Tocchini ’66 – Owner

I have no explanation as to why so many from this San Francisco prep school are connected to the wine industry. Is it a coincidence or some demographic that is common to students who attend St. Ignatius High School?