Jeff Cichocki

Jeff Cichocki is one of Bonterra’s founding winemaker. Introduced in 1993 as one of the first organically farmed wines in the US, Bonterra's acclaimed varietal wines are exclusively made from 100% certified organic California vineyards. In 2016, the vineyard was named American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast, the first-ever awarded to a vintner dedicated to organic farming.

Jeff’s passion has always been toward small family wineries that craft fine wines with an eye towards being good stewards to the environment. He began his winemaking career in the cellar of Mill Creek Winery in Healdsburg, moving quickly to Cellar Master at Matanzas Creek Winery in Bennett Valley. He moved on to Cakebread Cellars in Napa and B.R. Cohn in Sonoma Valley before taking on winemaking duties at Mendocino’s Jeriko Estate Winery in Hopland, a winery, not far from Bonterra’s McNab Ranch, that produces a variety of certified organic wines.

3 words to describe Nature?

Balance. Timeless. Dynamic

3 things Nature taught you?




3 most treasured Nature spots?

My “home” Zinfandel vineyard behind my house, next to the Russian River in Mendocino County.

The Northern California coast

The desert, including the incredible Joshua Tree National Park, where I headed on a recent trip.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel...?

Tiny – relative to the vastness of the ocean

When you see a forest, it makes you feel...?


When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

In awe. It’s so primordial – I was lucky enough to fly over Hawaii’s active volcano.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel...?

Opportunity, with sunrise. Sunset brings closure to the day. They’re bookends, offering us a sense of timeliness or organization somehow – our universal clock.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel...?

Excited, I love thunder. As a kid growing up in Ohio, we had lots of summertime thunderstorms - they make me feel nostalgic.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel...?

It makes me wonder if my tree limbs are going to stay put! As a winemaker, I’m a natural weather follower. Wind means change is coming.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

An avid skier, I love the desert and grew up sailing in Southern California. I’m equally drawn to the desert, mountains, and ocean – all three.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10. It’s my livelihood, it’s my passion. Every day I’m reminded that the health of our planet and farming are key. Really, I think anyone involved in the wine industry has a tremendous connection to nature and farming. As a winemaker and viticulturist, one of the main attractions of this industry is its intrinsic connection to the natural world.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Growing up in Anaheim in Southern California, there was a lack of natural phenomena, apart from incredible family trips to remote mountain areas in the winter. I aspired to be a part of something natural, in a far greater capacity, later in life. This drive led me to Northern California, where I’m much closer to the natural environment. Living in wine country, we are inherently tied to nature and keenly aware of our interdependence day in and day out, and from season to season.