Prima Materia | The Italian Connection **OFFER CLOSED** Thanks Everyone!

Even though the Berserkers offer is closed feel free to check out our website, and we have a $275 mixed case offer that is live. Thanks everyone!

First, big thanks to Todd, Patrick, and the Berserker community. Prima Materia is a little late getting here, but extremely thrilled and honored to finally make it on board. We have been planting grapes and making wine in Lake County since 2008, living out a fascination with Italian grapes and clean/minimalist neoclassical winemaking for a while now. We are probably best know for our Sangiovese, Barbera, and Aglianico, but we have 13 different cultivars – mostly Italian – planted on 10 acres at 1,500’ in the Kelsey Bench AVA of Lake County, just over the hill from Napa and Sonoma counties. “We” are a 1.3-person operation, and pretty small at about 1,500 estate bottled cases per year – most of which we sell through our tasting room in Oakland, Ca. and

Quick bio: I grew up with agriculture on a 40-acre ranch among French Colombard and Carignan vines in the late 70’s/early 80’s in pre-Russian River Valley Sonoma County, Ca. Not sure what to do with that, I eventually settled down in Portland, and started working in kitchens after realizing that a philosophy/history degree was way too slow. Wanting to earn my culinary chops as quickly as possible, I did everything from feeding thousands at banquets, burger consulting, and a brief pastry stint (I sucked) to Michelin-starred fine dining. While working at Terra in Napa Valley, I helped my father plant vines on a small 10-acre block of land in Lake County, which kindled a growing interest in wine. After taking a summer break from cooking to help with harvest 2007, I was fully hooked, and from 2008 on I have been working and planting that vineyard in Lake County. Barolo was my a-ha wine in 2008, so an Italian varietal focus was inevitable, and I have always been a texture-and-earth first guy, even when cooking. Lake County grapes have no shortage of fruitiness, and since I am fascinated by the intricacies of those textural and unpindownable secondary notes (cedar, leather, olive, those old-world profiles) I’m in a good place to really focus on those elements, knowing that the sunny climate at 1,500’ will provide ripe tannins and fruit, then I can work on long fermentations, careful vine management, and low-intervention but very cautious aging.

I became a wine geek, so much so that some of my wines are intentionally non-vintage. I don’t have a problem with that. Sometimes multi-vintage can work together with some of the more trying years we have had. 2019 had great body while for us 2020 was a very hot vintage and a little skronky for some wines, and after trials sometimes the sum exceeds the whole. But if it doesn’t, then we don’t do it. Ironically, some of our benchmark wines are regularly non-vintage: Sagrantino, Nebbiolo - 3 vintages in that one, Aglianico and Zinfandel, all killer. A narrative arc or idiosyncratic edges are much more important to me than blending to fill holes, soften, or enrich.

Prima Materia currently has 20 wines on our website, 18 of which are estate grown and bottled. Several are just 1-2 barrels made per year. And yes, some of them are non-vintage. So without further ado…

Since this is our first year, let’s keep it simple. Here is the offer:
#1: The “Try Us Out” 3-pack for $99 with $0-cost shipping. This 3-pack has one bottle each of:

  • Dolcetto

  • Barbera

  • Aglianico

(Basically free shipping which would be 15-35% off depending on where you live)

#2: The “Try Us Out” 6-pack for $165 with $0-cost shipping (roughly 25-30% off including shipping). This 6-pack has one bottle each of:

  • Vermentino

  • Zinfandel

  • Dolcetto

  • Barbera

  • Nebbiolo

  • Aglianico

#3: The Choose-Your-Own-Adventure 6-pack $165 with $0-cost shipping (roughly 30+% off including shipping, depending on choices)
Peruse our 20 wines, and choose any 6 that you want for $165 with $0-cost shipping.

#4: The Choose-Your-Own-Adventure 12-pack for $300 with $0-cost shipping (roughly 40+% off including shipping, depending on choices)
Peruse our 20 wines, and choose any 12 that you want for $300 with $0-cost shipping.

To order or check out all of our bottlings please go to:
All of our wines can be found and researched by going to the “shop/wines” tab at the top since the Berserker deals are hidden.
When ordering one of the choose-your-own-adventure 6 or 12-packs, just write in the 6 or 12 bottles and quantities (Nebbiolo 1, Barbera 2, etc.) that you want in the comments section, choose shipping in or out of California, or Bay Area delivery, and that is it! It can be a case of all Chardonnay, or all Nebbiolo! If you want baller Aglianico and Sagrantino and aren’t attached to your tooth enamel? Go for it. Want pretty pretty Grenache and Dolcetto that drinks like fancy Gamay? We make those too. It is a very nice Chard by the way. I will provide brief notes below but please check out the wines on the website for much deeper info. There are even podcasts on many varietals, YouTube videos from 2020’s Covid downer online tastings, blog posts, and technical data sheets to vineyard map on the website. There is a lot of info on the website.

Any questions – just email, hell you can even text me at 707-391-0492. I will try to respond promptly.

Shipping: CA, OR, WA, and AZ will ship via GSO. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area I will personally deliver. Other states will be via UPS. We can’t ship to ND, NH, UT, MS, AL, AR, VT, KY, SD, AK, or HI. Sorry about that - write your local representatives. Sadly we must collect the rather brutal Alameda County of Ca. sales tax, which makes me look like a jerk.
Please remember that someone will need to sign for the shipment, so if shipping to a workplace is best, simply add the delivery address and I will see that it is different than the billing address.
I will start shipping out orders next week - depending on weather and location.

Stylistically, Lake County is a pretty warm and higher-altitude growing region, though we can be well below freezing in the winter, summers and warm and sunny with blue skies almost every day. Many of our wines are around the 14% mark, and I do a lot in the vineyard to try to restrain that. That of course is not uncommon for Barbera, Sangiovese, Negro Amaro, etc. even from the old country. Sagrantino is an unstoppable sugar factory, so that is the highest at 14.8% The Dolcetto is 13.0%, and the Zin is like an old-school field blend at an honest 14.01%. The others are all in the middle. Unless you have the palate of a saint, and can regularly distinguish between 13.2 and 13.4% ABV like clockwork, I encourage you to not make choices based on alcohol levels. While too much alcohol is definitely too much, ideology is always the true enemy, and breaking those shackles will get us out of this post-modern mess, but I digress. No, all wines were not in fact 12.5% in the old days. Yes, Nebbiolo, Barbera and Sagrantino have always been high-sugar grapes when managed on the vine. Yes, I have been part of dealcoholization trials, and it is true that you get radically different wines with just a .1% shift in alcohol, but it is not linear, and I’ve experienced the 13.7% feeling hotter than the 14.8%. That said, I try my best…

We get plenty of forward fruit in sunny Lake County, so my job is to build up the earth and spice, stay away from new oak, and give enough barrel time so that structure, earthiness, and then fruit are all in balance, then go unfined and unfiltered. I like lees. A bit of restraint and discipline, a bit of burliness, a dash of feral, and a strong vein of honest thoughtful pretty is the aesthetic goal. The two wines in the lineup that we did not grow are from only 5 miles away btw…

Many of our heavier wines need a little time and air to wake up. We hand bottle our wines, so I force them into a somewhat reduced state before bottling since we can’t get a high speed bottler to the winery. This also helps solidify the Old World world non-fruit aspects and tannic texture that Prima Materia is going for. 15 minutes of air should be good. Less tannic wines like the Dolcetto, Zin, Negro Amaro or Grenache are ready to go. Non-commodity wine is a living thing - give it a little time to wake up, or at least a bit of aggressive swirling, and be rewarded…

Here is a brief overview of wines with 3rd party tasting blurbs - please go to our website for deeper information

2018 Chardonnay - Stainless aged, 25-year old vines, “This mellow and minerally wine brings savory elements to the aromas and flavors rather than overt fruity ones, giving it an unusual and interesting complexity. Earthy tones meet subtle fennel and lemon flavors on the palate, and good concentration leads to a lingering finish.” 92 point WE, 13.5% ABV

2019 Vermentino - Medium weight (rather than an acid laser) due to the hot 2020 vintage pre harvest, stainless aged, pure lemon curd goodness from 1,700’ in the Red Hills AVA five miles away from us. 13.7% ABV

2020 Rosés - We make three of them: light and crisp vin gris of Mourvèdre and Zin, medium-weight regular rosé based on Sangiovese, and a dark rosé of Barbera and Algianico that is barrel aged.

Grenache - “This is a gloriously fresh, ripe, light and delicious grenache, offering a totally transparent ruby-brick red hue and winsome aromas of sour cherry and melon, cloves, briers and brambles with a touch of raspberry and its leaf; plenty of lip-smacking acidity holds the wine together, yet it feels almost weightless on the palate; mild tannins, sporting with dust and graphite, provide essential structure.” - Bigger Than Your Head 14.3% ABV

2019 Dolcetto - “This flavorful, smoky and moderately tannic wine offers black-pepper, bell-pepper and charred meat aromas backed by black-fruit flavors. It’s lively, distinctive and offers a good change of pace from the usual French varietals.” - WE (This was cofermented with 10% Chardonnay and has bit of the floral-but-meaty cofermented aspect.) 13.0% ABV

2017 Sangiovese - “The 2017 Sangiovese has notes of red cherry, raspberry, boysenberry, violets, earth, and a touch of cocoa powder, as well as some meaty aromas. The tannins are grippy and the acidity hits the back of the palate and a rush of saliva comes forward. This wine definitely wets the palate and makes you want to enjoy it with food, such as a grilled steak.” - Please the Palate, 14.1% ABV

Zinfandel - The result is an invigorating, high-elevation Zin that had us refilling our glasses and asking why more California producers who work with the variety don’t take a few pages out of Italy’s book… The fruit—wild blackberry, black plum, boysenberry, pomegranate, cranberry, and cherry—is certainly juicy, but not at all in a cloying way; rather, it mirrors the delightful freshness of just-squeezed, unripe forest berries. Accents of damp moss, sage, tobacco smoke, freshly turned earth, and black pepper add savory layers of complexity to a Zinfandel that reminds us how good this variety can taste when it’s not masked by aggressive winemaking and excessive ripeness. - Somm Select, 14.01% ABV

2019 Negro Amaro - “This fascinating, full-bodied and complex wine offers an unusual and intriguing array of roasted chestnut, wild-blackberry and grilled herb flavors on a full body with moderate tannins. It demands repeated sipping and savoring to tease out its many nuances.” 93 points WE, 14.3% ABV

2018 Barbera - “This big, bold and generous wine grown at 1,450-feet elevation in red volcanic soil has great fruit concentration and a velvety texture of fine-grained tannins. It is deep, concentrated and nicely mouthcoating.” - 92 points, WE, 14.5% ABV (I will add that this is 3 different clones, all fermented separately since they have different fruit characteristics, trying to preserve that pomegranate layer and blackberry layer from the vineyard blocks.)

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon - Released this week, so no reviews yet! Not surprisingly for us, an earthy take on Cab but still full of plum fruit first with red and black in the background, surprisingly good acidity and classic moderate tannin, full without being heavy. The numbers were perfect, nothing added, unfined, unfiltered, and very focused. 19 months in barrel, 26-day maceration. From a vineyard 5 miles away from ours on former Clear Lake lakebed. 14.18% ABV

Nebbiolo - Just released, no reviews yet. In the NorCal warm-climate tradition of being closer to Barbaresco than Barolo (bite your tongue idyllic Santa Barbara oversaturated fruit) but with hints of the truffle and leather tones definitely there. Classic tannin, a little less acidity than our Italian counterparts but still vibrant, crushed raspberry and cranberry, fig, and we got the florals of rose and violet already. A strategic blend of 2017, 2018, and 2019 vintages. Let it breath my friends! I am excited for where this will be in a couple years. 14.4% ABV

Refosco - A divisive grape, some finding it bitter and metallic, others smooth. The prior vintage had a fascinating bloody iodine streak while this one is subdued. “The color shades through black to purple to magenta; notes of spiced and macerated red currants, cherries and plums are married to darker hints of loam, graphite and briery forest qualities; this is sleek and lithe on the palate, but with the slight drag of mildly dusty tannins for texture; the oak regimen provides a subliminal shaping effect on the wine’s flow through the mouth, allowing for a structure that’s light, elegant, almost delicate.” - Bigger Than Your Head 14.3% ABV

Sagrantino - Just released as well. I planted the vines in 2012, and 10 years later we are just releasing our second bottling. Sigh. Imagine a Dry Creek Zin punching you in the face repeatedly. A great California-esque fruit core of crushed red berries, high tones of watermelon and rose, then savory cedar, walnut, fig, leather, cardamom, with medium acidity and a wall of fine-grained tannin gluing your wine hole shut. It is a youngin so decant, but it has enough innate pleasure fruit that you could sneak it to your nanna and watch her smile and then wince. Randall Grahm isn’t a fan of the density, and though in lighter wines I want decompressed layers upon layers, I say sometimes you want, nay, need the sticky icky white dwarf of wines. 14.8% ABV

2019 “The Katechon” - 2 barrels made of 50/50 Cabernet Sauvignon and Aglianico blend, not even released yet. This is the odd wine of the lineup with a bit of oak, basically a “modern” (no, not post- post-modern hyper conformist natty) Super Campanian, super forward, super precise going for the Napa hillside profile, maybe Spring Mountain-ish with just a kiss of French oak. Not heavy, if anything the Aglianico tightens the Cabernet’s roundness a hair, puts it in Spanx and pushes some red fruit onto it with a mineral streak, while the Cab ads a little flesh and purple fruit to the Aglianico and polishes the rough edges a bit. Aged in 3-year old Taransaud French oak. 14.5%

Aglianico - “Superconcentrated black-fruit flavors and a firm, grippy texture combine for a powerful expression of this Italian grape variety. Blackberries and boysenberries practically explode on the palate, while good, moderate tannins nicely balance out their fruitiness.” - 92 points, WE, 14.47% ABV
("17 and '18 vintages combined here, 30 months in barrel averaged on lees, over a year in bottle before releasing)

more info:



I have seen significant potential for Italian varieties in California for quite a while, and tasted many fine specimens from Santa Cruz to Santa Ynez, including Monterey and Paso Robles. I had been unfamiliar with Pietro Buttitta’s work in Lake County until Todd made the introduction for this BD newbie post. What an exciting assignment.

Pietro shared an extensive selection of his reds for tasting, and they impressed me with great typicity, old world sensibility, and just a hint of Californian accent (which is a good combination for my taste, although I sometimes miss a more robust streak of bitterness in Cal-Ital wines).

Balance was a consistent factor throughout the lineup, as was structure. ~1,450 foot of elevation, with volcanic soils, help in that regard (the vineyard is located in the Kelsey Bench AVA: A restrained neutral oak regimen, mainly older French and Hungarian, does its part.

While none of the wines had reached the five year mark, I am confident that they will age gracefully. All bottles were sound, and showed varietally correct with proper color. All were unfined and unfiltered, yet with little sediment even in the older bottles. Twin-top agglomerated corks served as defect-free closure. Like so often with Italian wines, they were at their best with food. My favorites for immediate consumption were the Sangiovese followed by the Negro Amaro. Long term, likely the Nebbiolo. I expect the Aglianico to blossom as well. Detailed notes below.

These wines are a good value at regular pricing, and a great one with this offer. Buy with confidence.

NV Aglianico (2017/2018)
The seductive one. Deep ruby color, nose is black cherry and plum. Understated fruit on the palate initially. Hint of cocoa. Slight bitterness on the back of the palate. Mouth watering. Medium plus acidity, high tannin. Full bodied, medium plus length. Could use some cellar time. Two hours in, fully fleshed out, rich, round, tannins well integrated, nicely balanced. In good shape on the second day, still tannic and with a hint of volatility. Went nicely with chocolate.

NV Nebbiolo (2017/2018/2019)
The shy philosopher. Classic brick color, an orange tinge. Pretty nose, elegant palate, dry. Medium acidity, high tannin. Medium alcohol. Very young, needs time. After two hours of decanting, a complex floral nose emerged, with leather and a hint of fresh herbs. Red fruited on the palate, berries and a tiny bit of cherry. Robust yet light footed, worth contemplating. Ready for prime time with food (I chose pan seared duck breast). Starting to unfurl on the second day, spices becoming more prominent, and tannin more integrated.

2017 Sangiovese
The favorite dinner companion. Garnet color. A reticent nose initially, earthy, red and black cherry. Hint of violets. Lightly aerated, white pepper emerges on the nose, a hint of leather. Crunchy red fruit on the palate. Medium plus acidity, tannin and alcohol. Dry, well balanced. Very primary, medium body and length. A Cali Chianti, with good tension and polish. A complete wine with an hour of time, after starting just a bit light mid-palate. Delicious, round, well integrated, firm yet smooth tannins.

2018 Barbera
The crowd pleaser. Inky, almost purple color. Dark fruit on the nose, slightly reduced. Lush mouthfeel, medium plus acidity, medium tannin, medium alcohol. More giving than the Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, with an edge. A couple hours in, more earthy and spicy on the nose, brambly and juicy on the palate. Leathery, some tar. I would pick this for pizza night (but actually paired it with an authentic Carbonara).

2019 Negro Amaro
The life of the party. Pretty pale ruby color. Slightly funky, a little reduced initially, blew off quickly. Delicious and fruit forward on the nose and palate. Plum, berry compote, not jammy. Some herbal notes. Medium acidity. Medium minus tannin. Medium alcohol. Medium body, dry. Fun, yet not without complexity. Could see this paring well with a cheese board appetizer, or dessert. Should be nice with a little chill on it in the summer. I sensed a tiny hint of fizz and sweetness, neither one of which I think was actually real.


Too kind Uli, thank you. Very perceptive, and yes the Negro Amaro was bottled with a little CO2 left in for a touch of fresh lift. Good call.

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This guy Berserks! [cheers.gif]

Pietro is the Italian Sabelli-Frisch. I am most definitely placing an order.


In for a mixed-case!


In for a sampler. I’ve always believed mediterranean grapes would be most suitable for much of California.


In for a mixed 6 pack.


Deleted. Posted twice.

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Both myself personally and the Ancient Wine Guys have long been fans, supporters of and collaborators with Pietro and Prima Materia. These are easily some of my favorite California Italian wines, all made with integrity by one of the most humble yet knowledgeable winemakers in California.

Pietro is one of only a handful of people making Aglianico, Nebbiolo, and Refosco in the state and you’d be remiss to overlook them if you have any affinity for the Italian versions of these grapes. These are always fun for us as they’re closely tied to some of the most ancient archaeological sites back in Italy, but we don’t have to leave CA to taste them!

My personal favorite drink-anytime wines in the lineup are the Sangiovese and Barbera, both packed full of old-world spice, nuance, and effortless structure, but with crazy delicious concentration to the fruit and lots of that Lake County volcanic je ne sais quoi all at dangerously fair prices…


Thank you sir! You are taking the deep dive!

That reminds me, I need to place an order with him…

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Both Ryan and Ti of the Ancient Wine Guys have helped out multiple times on the vineyard and at the winery. Not only are they great people, but if you really want to sample obscure gems, give any of their offers a try!


Couldn’t agree more. Pietro’s wines are CONVINCINGLY old-world inspired in a way that so few wineries even attempt, much less capture in bottle. For the European-oriented palates out there, you may not find a better domestic match than Prima Materia.


I had the opportunity to try Pietro’s wines and across the board I would say these are outstanding and pure expressions of Italian varietals and the terroir in which the grapes are grown. What’s obvious with the wines is that Pietro is a total wine geek himself, and I really appreciate the winemaking effort that is clearly meant to allow the grapes to maintain their identity, will framing them in the best possible light. I’d recommend reading Pietro’s own descriptions as I found them spot on and he publishes a number of good data points around how the wine was made to give you a good frame of reference.

These are Italian varietals, so they have the acid profile that make for very versatile food wines. My favorites were the Aglianico and the Negroamaro, but all were great. I’ll share detailed notes on my two favorites:

Deep purple, stained tears, slow legs. The wine benefits from a bit of air (60 min does the trick). Black plum, black cherry, brambleberry, some spice, and graphite. No notable signs of oak. The wine has a really nice balance with great structure. What I really appreciated was the softness of the tannins here. When I think of Aglianico, I think of wines from Campania/Vulture in southern Italy that need time to become drinkable. This wine has the structure, but is also enjoyable young. Great value at the $40 list price. Bravo!

Sort of like the Aglianico’s little brother. Medium purple, some staining of the tears. A bit more floral than the aglianico and a little bit of tartness to the fruit profile. Red/black plums, black cassis, black cherry, hint of thyme. Classic negroamaro flavors. No signs of oak here either. Medium tannins are fine grained. This is the wine to grab when one person is having fish, another pasta, and another steak.


Thanks so much John!

Sangiovese is a little limited at the moment but we should make it through tomorrow!

Just 3.5 cases of Cab Franc left!

Tried to order a 6-pk but it gave me an error message that you don’t ship to SC. I ended up sending it to our vacation home - I will PM you with shipping dates so someone will be there to receive. Look forward to trying!

In for a mixed 6-pack

Pietro, I think I was undercharged, it gave me a discount on top of the $165. Feel free to adjust.

In for the custom six pack. I adore Stereophonic’s Aglianico projects and am excited to see what others in California are doing. Also, American Sagrantino? Yes please.