CHRISTOPHER W. SILVA

St. Francis Winery and Vineyards


The way Christopher Silva sees it, wine has always played a big part in the quality of his life. A fifth-generation native of Sonoma County, Chris grew up with all the benefits that are the birthright of the residents of an agricultural region.

As the Chief Executive Officer of St. Francis Winery and Vineyards, Chris sometimes finds himself driven by a motivating factor: "Selfishness," he says with a chuckle. "As long as agriculture succeeds here, we'll have open space and vineyards –– rather than factories and complexes –– along the highway. That 's the quality of life I had growing up here, and it's the way I want it to be for my two children."

But it has taken this wine lover until his early 30s to actually make the product he loves the focus of his work. In his 20s, he developed a host of skills that he puts to use every day in his role as St. Francis Winery operations manager and spokesperson.

After graduating from Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa, California, Chris attended Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He went on to graduate from Loyola Law School and practiced in Los Angeles for several years. In 1992, he moved back to Sonoma to represent wineries as an attorney. "I always wanted to get wine into my professional life," he says, "and this was a way to do it."

Chris didn't officially became a part of St. Francis until 1998, when he left the law to become their Chief Operating Officer, but –– as it turns out –– his family has a long history with the winery. Both his younger brother and aunt worked there over the years, and in the 1930s, Silva's grandfather, who owned a local dairy ranch, sold his extra milk barrels to Mr. Pagani, the producer of a renowned local Zinfandel on the very grounds now occupied by St. Francis. The economics of this arrangement amuse Silva today: "Mr. Pagani would age the Zinfandel in the barrels and sell them back to my grandfather at the full price of $1 per barrel.”

In 2003, Christopher became the Chief Executive Officer.

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