May 27, 2018
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Cotatiís Pinot grapes bring visionaries together-2007

By: Irene Hilsendager
February 9, 2018

Arturo Ibleto, aka Pasta King, has found a new way to stay young. When you ask this 82-year-old what keeps him going, he’ll say “Work is my life. Many think they have two lives-one for fun, one for work. I only have one and I make work fun.” He is a man who knows how to take ordinary work, like cooking and make it into an extraordinary life, one that inspires and gives to others.

His latest venture is becoming part owner of the Russian River Vineyards with partner Chris O’Neill. O’Neill and wife Barbara are so excited about this real estate undertaking that they have moved in the neighborhood and are getting involved in Forestville.

At a recent vineyard party to celebrate the successful election of County Supervisor Efren Carrillo, O’Neill addressed the question of investing in hard economic times. Chris learned much about property investment from his work in Baltimore and reflected that “I have learned over the years that real estate has many cycles and when prices drop, that’s the time to get good buys if you know what good property is.” And Russian River Vineyards (former Topolos) meets the criteria-good location and great possibilities. It is one of only two wineries with permits for a full-service restaurant (Stella’s) which comes equipped with an excellent chef, Greg Hallihan, who can supervise that part of the business independently.

In addition to prime property, the partnership with Ibleto was ideal. O’Neill was already buying art’s pinot grapes from his 50 acres in Cotati and Ibleto wanted a place to do his own bottling. In addition, they are of like minds. They believe in doing work that they love and that retirement is simply not an option.

Chris’ ability to renovate challenged properties was also a perfect match for Art’s background with food. As a young boy in Sesta Godano, Italy, Arturo learned from his mother Maria how to make nutritious delicious food with very little resources or income. “Even in hard times, people gotta eat,” Ibleto asserted, “And if it’s good, hearty food, along with good wine from locally grown grapes, they’re gonna come back every time.”

Good food, wine, location, managed by eternal optimists-what could be a better formula for success?


Irene Hilsendager’s column each week touches on moments in the history of Cotati, Rohnert Park and Penngrove.