Log In / Join Now

Rachel Ann Seghesio Dies at 80

Matriarch of Sonoma Zinfandel family helped build the business and welcome visitors

Tim Fish
Posted: October 5, 2010

Rachel Ann Seghesio, who grew up around the vineyards of Alexander Valley and became the matriarch of the Seghesio wine clan, died of a stroke Thursday night. She was 80.

Seghesio had been in good health and was recently welcoming consumers and industry visitors to food-and-wine pairings at the family’s Healdsburg winery, which has been a consistent source of outstanding Zinfandel. “She was one of those people who made you feel better when she walked into the room,” said Cathy Seghesio, who is married to Rachel Ann’s son, Pete Jr.

Born Rachel Ann Passalacqua on Feb. 28, 1930, she was the daughter of grapegrower Emil Passalacqua and grew up on the family ranch just north of Healdsburg. In 1956 she married Eugenio Pio “Pete” Seghesio, who passed away in 2004.

The couple epitomized the notion of opposites attract. She was calm and gracious, while he was outgoing and gruff. In the early days, Rachel Ann weighed the grapes and kept the payroll, while raising her two children, Camille Seghesio and Pete Jr. In addition, she taught in Sonoma County schools for five years.

Seghesio is one of the last of a generation that witnessed the evolution of the California wine industry from the adversity of Prohibition to the booming modern era. “She was one of the guiding lights there,” said family friend Jim Pedroncelli of Pedroncelli winery. “She was a very gentle lady.”

Seghesio is survived by her two children and two grandsons.

Gavin Hakkei
Honolulu, HI, USA —  October 6, 2010 4:17am ET
Had the priviledge to meet her a few years ago and hear all the stories about the Seghesio history. Such a sweet woman. She will be missed!
John Tallarido
royal palm beach, fl ,usa —  October 9, 2010 8:09pm ET
My wife and I just had a food and wine pairing at Seghesio Winery on 9/17/10. Rachel was there to share with us her family stories. The other guests had cancelled, so it was just us. Rachel was gracious, warm, kind and, needless to say, quite interesting. Her stories gave us great insight into the Seghesio family. Thank you Rachel for sharing some of your life with us. You made our weekend quite special. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Seghesio family.

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.