Tom Farella’s original inspiration to enter the wine trade began as a youngster at the dinner table and was later fortified by a family trip to France and some gentle prodding by father Frank. He graduated from UC Davis in 1983 with a degree in Viticulture and Enology while holding down weekend and harvest work with Neyers Vineyards and Flora Springs Winery. His first real job was as winemaker at Preston in Sonoma County which he left after six years to work in Burgundy for Domaine Jacques Prieur in Meursault in 1989. The work/travel bug persisted so he then worked in Oregon for a harvest at Ponzi Winery in 1990, then in the vineyard for Beaux Freres in 1991. It was after these rich experiences that Tom Farella came back to Farella full time.
Frank Farella founded Farella-Park Vineyards in 1985 in a small, 400 square foot winery next to his house in Napa. His long-sought goal to grow fine wine grapes from a modest, depression-era background was a story that unfolded slowly and steadily. Beginning with his Italian grandparents at home, many home-made wines from the Napa and Alexander Valleys, and ultimately, a test vintage in 1982 from young Farella Vineyard grapes, the commercial venture began in 1985 as a barrel of Chardonnay, a stainless fermented Sauvignon Blanc and a Merlot/Cabernet field blend.
While the first 5 vintages were produced by Frank Farella (with Tom’s help), Tom took over in 1991 and led the winemaking until the end of 2018. Ryan Pass, also a UC Davis Viticulture and Enology graduate, was then promoted to Winemaker. His passion and skill set have dovetailed perfectly for the winemaking goals and he and Tom continue to work together as the sole labor and expertise for production of Farella wines.
In 2009, in the midst of the Great Recession, Tom steered his sights to writing a petition then sent to the federal government for the designation of “Coombsville” American Viticultural Area (AVA). It would become Napa Valley’s 16th sub-AVA in November, 2011.