Christopher Silva, the Petaluma-born dynamo who left lawyering to become president of St. Francis Winery and steepened its ascent among Sonoma County’s finest purveyors of fine wine and foods, died Tuesday at the age of 52.
It was just in April that the father of two announced on Facebook that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer.
Silva quickly began radiation and chemotherap at UCSF, and he hoped to be treated by doctors at Duke University who developed a treatment that in a trial greatly extended patients’ survival time.
Enormously personable and widely beloved, Silva made St. Francis Winery & Vineyards a model of sustainability and the endless pursuit of excellence. He encouraged employees to give back to their community, and he led by example.
Among his contributions to Sonoma County was his founding of the successful Wine Classic, an afternoon of food, wine and acknowledgement of community leaders, at one of his alma maters, Santa Rosa Junior College.
“Chris was a real gift to everyone who knew him,” said a heartbroken Frank Chong, the school’s president.
“He was shining star,” Chong said. Though Silva died far too young, Chong added, “In the time he was here, he left his imprint on so many people.