Family Influences Rise of Aldina Vineyards - Francisco Lopez '01

Francisco Lopez '01, MA '13 got into the wine industry through his parents. His parents, Al and Dina, planted the Santa Rosa vineyard in 1999 and paved the way for Francisco's entrepreneurial spirit. Learn more about how he and his sister, Monica, have grown Aldina Vineyards.

Briefly, what do you do? What/who inspired you to get into the wine business

I am the proprietor of Aldina Vineyards, and as any small production winery owner will tell you; in a "normal year" that means I do a little bit of everything from working in the vineyards to ensure a healthy harvest, barrel selection, sales, social media and attending/hosting wine events. My sister and partner, Monica Lopez, and I are also constructing a wine center in Healdsburg, CA with five tasting spaces, including one for Aldina Vineyards, and indoor and outdoor event spaces. My parents are definitely the ones who inspired me to get into the wine industry, as the vineyard began as a passion project for them that evolved into a winery for us. I remember my father planting the vineyard in 1999, while I was in my second year at SMC and coming to Santa Rosa to help him work it during the summer months. My parents have always been successful business people, whether it be in design, publishing or real estate and proved very influential in guiding me on my own entrepreneurial path and leading by example to work hard, be passionate and always provide the best quality possible in everything I do. 

What is the best/most rewarding part of your job?

The short answer is that I am able to do something that I love for a living alongside people that I enjoy working with.  Also, the interaction with people who are interested in our story and curious about our wines. For an extrovert like me, it’s really fun to share our wines with people and I get to spend time appreciating the beautiful place where I live along with all of its fabulous wine and food. There are definitely a lot of great aspects about my job and one of my favorite parts of winemaking is the harvest. What’s not to like about working in the picturesque setting of Sonoma County wine country?

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of working in the wine industry is mother nature; whether it be droughts, late rains, extreme heat in the summer, but unfortunately since 2017, the fires have been devastating for Sonoma and Napa Counties. Currently we should be gearing up for harvest and all the fun of Fall, yet here we are again concerned with another wildfire. 

How did Saint Mary's prepare you for your job?

I feel that Saint Mary's prepared me well for real-life situations and jobs. As I was in education for 13 years before moving to Sonoma County to join my family in the wine industry. The diverse and challenging courses taught me exceptional critical-thinking skills and that the answers will not always be in front of my face. Through courses like Seminar–I learned how to communicate effectively with people and problem solve. Many of my Jan Terms were spent abroad, where I was given the opportunity to experience diverse cultures and people, which helped make me a more well-rounded person and gave me the ability to connect with more people.