Many of you know that Leonetti Cellar was founded by my parents, Gary and Nancy Figgins, in 1977 as Walla Walla’s first commercial winery. What is far less understood is that the presence of our family in Walla Walla spans over a century long into the deep silt loam of this valley. My father was incredibly fortunate to know his grandparents, Francesco and Rosa Leonetti, quite well. I grew up making weekend trips the short distance down the old dirt road to the Leonetti farm they established in 1906. This is the same site where, with a few cuttings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling, my father would come to plant his first commercial vineyard in 1974 and unknowingly establish an entire industry for our valley. Building off the inspiration he gleaned from his grandfather’s bubbling fermentations on the farm’s dirt floor basement, the only logical thing to do to honor his family’s roots would be to name the winery Leonetti Cellar. Through these experiences I acquired a certain perspective and reverence for our family heritage that guides me to this day.

Chris Figgins

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Rooted in the Walla Walla Valley for over a hundred years

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FIGGINS FAMILY

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1901

Rosalina Fazzari arrives in Walla Walla, WA immigrating from Serra Pedace, Calabria, Italy

1906

Frank and Rose Leonetti homestead

Frank and Rose purchase a distressed parcel of land in which to farm

Frank and Rose Leonetti portrait

1905

Frank and Rose marry in Walla Walla after an “arranged” courting period

Leonetti Celar barrel cave

2000

Current production facility on the Leonetti Estate is built with three barrel caves

Gary, Nancy, Amy and Chris in 1978

1978

Leonetti Cellar’s first commercial vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon & Riesling is produced from the grapes harvested from the Leonetti homestead

1973

Gary and Rick Small are based in California for Army Reserve service and begin making trips to Wine Country

Virginia Leonetti and Berle Figgins marriage

1943

Virginia Leonetti marries Berle Figgins (Gary’s father) in Walla Walla

1981

Wine & Spirits Magazine Buying Guide, recognizing the 1978 Leonetti Cabernet

Wine & Spirits Magazine recognizes 1978 Leonetti Cabernet as the best in the nation in a blind tasting

Gary and Nancy by the tack shed

1975

Gary and Nancy purchase current winery property and convert the tiny horse tack shed into a winery

1995

Mill Creek Upland Vineyard

A perfect higher elevation south facing site is purchased that will later become Mill Creek Upland Vineyard

1902

Francesco Leonetti arrives in Walla Walla, WA immigrating from Serra Pedace, Calabria, Italy

Loess Vineyard

2000

Land adjacent to Leonetti Cellar estate is purchased and will become Loess Vineyard

Leonetti in stone

1977

 

Gary and Nancy bond Leonetti Cellar as Walla Walla’s first winery

Gary Figgins and Nancy Cosgrove marriage

1968

Gary marries Nancy Cosgrove

1995

First Leonetti Sangiovese produced

1922

Gary Figgins’ mother, Virginia Leonetti, youngest of the six Leonetti children, is born in Walla Walla

2002

Loess Vineyard is planted

1980

First Leonetti Merlot is produced from the Leonetti Old Block

1996

winter

After a Winter freeze severely damages Walla Walla Valley vineyards, Gary and Chris embark on a quest to convert to an estate-grown model and  locate superior vineyard sites to mitigate potential winter damage

Gary and uncles planting

1974

Gary, along with his two uncles, George and Bill Leonetti, plant Cabernet and Riesling on a south facing parcel of the original Leonetti homestead

1948

Gary Figgins is born

Gary and Cliff Kontos stomping grapes

1973

Gary begins hobby winemaking in his basement

1976

 

Gary Figgins wearing bell-bottoms in Leonetti Cellar Old Block vineyard

Leonetti Old Block Merlot, the first Walla Walla Valley vineyard, is planted on the current estate property

1980

McClellan and Hendricks families establish the famed Seven Hills Vineyard

The old stone winery building

1984

Construction begins on the old stone winery building

Young Chris with Gary and the family dog

1996

Chris Figgins, Gary and Nancy’s son, graduates from Washington State University with a degree in horticulture and joins the family business

1997

Leonetti acquires partnership in Seven Hills Vineyard

1997

Mill Creek Upland Vineyard planted and Seven Hills Vineyard expanded

Chris balances and mixes grapes

2001

Chris assumes reins as head winemaker for Leonetti Cellar

Amy smiling with wineglass in hand

2007

Amy Figgins, Gary and Nancy’s daughter, joins the winery after a long stint in corporate America

2010

Serra Pedace Vineyard

Serra Pedace Vineyard, paying homage to the Leonetti’s ancestral home, is planted above Seven Hills Vineyard in SeVein Vineyards of Distinction

2004

winter

A winter arctic freeze blasts Walla Walla Valley vineyards with very low temps—new vineyards survive

Leonetti Aglianico wine bottle

2018

Leonetti releases Aglianico—first new varietal since 1995, and an homage to our southern Italian roots

2011

 

Gary and Nancy semi-retire and Chris assumes role of President and Director of Winemaking

menu

Leonetti Cellar Logo Link to Homepage
Frank and Rose Leonetti homestead
Frank and Rose Leonetti portrait
Leonetti Celar barrel cave
Gary, Nancy, Amy and Chris in 1978
Virginia Leonetti and Berle Figgins marriage
Gary and Nancy by the tack shed
Mill Creek Upland Vineyard
Loess Vineyard
Leonetti in stone
Gary Figgins and Nancy Cosgrove marriage
Gary and uncles planting
Gary Figgins wearing bell-bottoms in Leonetti Cellar Old Block vineyard
The old stone winery building
Young Chris with Gary and the family dog
Chris balances and mixes grapes
Amy smiling with wineglass in hand
Serra Pedace Vineyard
Leonetti Aglianico wine bottle
Frank and Rose Leonetti portrait
Frank and Rose Leonetti homestead
Virginia Leonetti and Berle Figgins marriage
Gary Figgins and Nancy Cosgrove marriage
Gary and Cliff Kontos stomping grapes
Gary and uncles planting
Gary and Nancy by the tack shed
Gary Figgins wearing bell-bottoms in Leonetti Cellar Old Block vineyard
Leonetti in stone
Gary, Nancy, Amy and Chris in 1978
Wine & Spirits Magazine Buying Guide, recognizing the 1978 Leonetti Cabernet
The old stone winery building
Mill Creek Upland Vineyard
Young Chris with Gary and the family dog
Loess Vineyard
Leonetti Celar barrel cave
Chris balances and mixes grapes
Amy smiling with wineglass in hand
Serra Pedace Vineyard
Leonetti Aglianico wine bottle
Leonetti Cellar Logo Link to Homepage