Chris Zazo isn’t the only Naples resident to own a California winery, but he might be the most unusual. A self-described blue-collar guy, he grew up on a dirt farm in Akron, Ohio, where his family mined peat bogs. After achieving success as a roofing contractor, he decided to follow his dream and founded Hailstone Vineyards. “It’s a passion project,” he explains. “We’re not making a lot of money, but I’m doing what I love.”
Hailstone’s 600-case production supplies many of the top restaurants and retail shops in Naples, along with three other markets around the country. Zazo owns no vineyards, which allows winemakers Tim Milos and Chad Alexander to carefully source specific growers and rows of vines to produce their Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. The 2013 Impact Cabernet is Zazo’s favorite, and local wine personalities seem to agree.
“Hailstone’s 2013 Cabernet is in its prime right now,” says Liset Zelaya, sommelier at Sea Salt. “It’s supple, dense, dark, and rich—everything any Napa wine lover could want. It’s a pleasure to introduce it to our guests.”