Heartfelt generosity from volunteers, longtime devoted friends and neighbors of beloved owners of Sante Arcangeli Winery, John Benedetti and his late wife Melanie Benedetti, came together to launch the new Sante Arcangeli tasting room in Aptos Village this summer — making it a true labor of love.
Neighboring shop owners and close friends, Ellen and Eric Gil, saw to its opening after carving out an adjoining space for the tasting room in the same building as their business, the Sockshop & Shoe Company.
The Gils, who were an integral part of the launch, crossed paths with Benedetti after he built a website for their Sockshop in 2004, and they’ve had an enduring friendship ever since. The couple also own stores in downtown Santa Cruz, and on Haight St. in San Francisco, until their most recent acquisition of their newest Sockshop & Shoe Company in Aptos Village, which opened in June.
The new tasting room at 154 Aptos Village Way is across from New Leaf Community Market and a block from David Kinch’s soon to open restaurant, Mentone. Visitors can also access the tasting room through a barn door shared with the Sockshop. The two businesses and friends provide a “perfect pairing” and a way to shop for eclectic socks while sipping wine at the same time.
“Volunteering with friends and community members next door in the tasting room has been so rewarding during this very difficult time for the Benedetti family,” said Sockshop co-owner Ellen Gil, who helped recruit and organize volunteers to open and staff the new tasting room. “The wine is truly amazing, as anyone who has tasted it will tell you. But so too is this community,” she said.
The tasting room is currently open 12-6, Thursday through Sunday and features highly rated and award-winning wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains. Enjoy a flight of five Santa Cruz Mountain wines at the bar made from old 100 year-old redwood found beneath the Hihn apple barn.
For owner John Benedetti, the opening of the Aptos tasting room seemed overshadowed by the devastating loss of his beloved wife of 24 years, Melanie Benedetti, to an unexpected diagnosis of stage 4-cancer.
Melanie, an otherwise vibrant and healthy, non-smoking 44-year-old, was initially diagnosed with a serious case of pneumonia at Kaiser Hospital in San Jose June 20, followed by a terminal diagnosis of lung cancer on July 5.
She died suddenly on July 26 surrounded by loved ones, leaving her husband to raise their 6-year-old son, Lucca.
The opening of the Sante Archangel tasting room during the unimaginable family tragedy is a testament to the boundless love and support that the entire community surrounding the Sante Arcangeli team brought in a time of crisis for the Benedetti family.
“Melanie was the best of humanity … totally selfless …. totally 120% real,” said Benedetti. “She was the most beautiful human I’ve ever met.”
In May of 1995, Melanie and John met in their early 20’s in Isla Vista while both attending UCSB, he said. “She was 20, I was 22,” Benedetti recalls. “I brought her back here to my hometown after our senior year… and we were together ever since. We were inseparable. Best friends’ first, lovers second he added. I’ve been with her more than half my life, and she’s entwined in everything I’ve done … from my old tech company, Iluminada Design, to Sante Adairius, to the Santa Archangeli winery. She was the backbone of all those things, giving me the confidence to give them all my best shot. Her saying was “If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter as long as we have each-other.” Twenty four years is far too short-a-time to have with someone like Melanie,” Benedetti said. Benedetti and son Lucca miss her beyond what words can describe.
The Benedetti’s are holding a now-sold-out Open House Fundraiser and Futures Sale at the winery production facility in Aromas August 24 at 238 Carpenteria Rd. In addition, September 7 and 8, Sockshop & Shoe Company in Aptos Village and Cantine Winepub (8050 Soquel Dr., Aptos) will each donate 10% of sales those days to the Benedetti family to assist with medical expenses. There will also be a silent auction October 3rd from 5:30-7:30 and raffle tickets will be sold at Sockshop and Sante. Wineries from all over the county have donated wines for the auction and prizes worth up to $8,000 will be available. Sante Archangeli will not be open for tastings that day, but wine lovers and supporters can purchase by the glass to sip and shop. Winners for the raffle will be announced that night and need not be present to win.
Sante Arcangeli Family Wines
Sante Arcangeli Family Wines produces less than 2000 cases a year. The winery focuses on creating carefully handcrafted Burgundian varietals that have been gently nurtured from rare mountain-grown fruit to a new life as elegant and expressive California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Sante Arcangeli Family Winery’s original tasting room is located at 216-A Stage Road in historic Pescadero and features 3 selections of Pinot Noir, a Rose’ of Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay from the Santa Cruz Mountains, with grapes grown from the Split Rail Vineyard and Lester Family Vineyard in Corralitos.
While locals are taking notice of Sante Arcangeli, the winery’s current and past vintages have gained the attention of top wine reviewers too. A sample of notable ratings include: a 95-point rating from Wine Enthusiast for the 2017 Lester Family Vineyard Pinot Noir, a 94-point rating from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and a 93-point rating from Wine Enthusiast for the 2016 Split Rail Vineyard Pinot Noir.
It has also earned; a 93-point rating from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate for the 2016 Lester Family Vineyard Pinot Noir; a 93-point rating from Wine Enthusiast, a 91-point rating from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate for the 2016 Integrato Pinot Noir; and a 92-point rating from Wine Enthusiast for the 2016 Split Rail Chardonnay.
Fans of Sante Arcangeli wines can join the winery’s’ extended family by becoming wine club members. Members can enjoy delicious wine, free tastings, winery events and discounted wine purchases. Learn more at www.santewinery.com.