A former musician, Shalini turned from her Master’s Degree in Flute and Piccolo Performance to a career in wine. After completing her studies at Fresno State University in Enology and Viticulture, she began her journey into winemaking marrying the same combination of art and science that fueled her passion in music.
Her experience with boutique producers and Pinot Noir dates back to her time at Williams Selyem. What followed was a series of steps in to the custom crush world where she began working with small clients to execute their visions for their boutique brands beginning with Copain Custom Crush (now Punchdown Cellars), then Bluxome Street Winery, and finally ROAR wines, where she made wine for Waits-Mast Family Cellars, Furthermore Pinot Noir, Neely Wine and several smaller brands.
Shalini was included in the San Francisco Chronicle’s 2019 Winemakers to Watch. In 2015 she was awarded Winemaker of the Year at the San Francisco International Wine Competition for her work with Furthermore Pinot Noir. In 2020 Shalini launched her own small brand under the Ottavino label, exploring Grüner Veltliner and less planted varietals in California. She continues to be the winemaker for Waits-Mast and Neely as well.
When Shalini is not at a winery or in the vineyards, she is busy studying for her WSET Diploma and chasing after her two small children.
Ottavino= Piccolo Flauta (Italian). Shalini’s first passion was playing the piccolo/a.k.a small flute. Now her passion is creating small-lot wines. A natural migration from one form of art and science to another…
For the last decade, Shalini has crafted highly-rated, small lot pinot noir and chardonnay for her boutique winery clients. With the launch of her Ottavino label in 2020, she aims to focus on varieties which are lesser-known/unexpected in California but equally outstanding. One might say that an Indian-American woman winemaker from New Jersey knows a thing or two about being unexpected but fabulous!
Drawing inspiration from wines she enjoys drinking from around the world and applying the knowledge and skills she has cultivated through years of crafting award-winning pinot noir and chardonnay, these wines are every bit as serious as the wines she crafts for her winery clients.
Wines and Vineyards
Located in the Los Carneros AVA (Sonoma) with its proximity to the San Pablo Bay, Ricci Vineyard is a cool site with thick morning fog and cool afternoon winds. Pioneering Dale Ricci had long ago established his vineyard with pinot noir and chardonnay before he obtained the St. Laurent budwood from a vineyard in Germany in 2000-2001. From that budwood, he propagated his own vines and now has 6 acres of St. Laurent in production. The variety, well-established in Austria and the Czech Republic, has a unique history. Its parentage is a mix of pinot noir and an unknown variety, now thought to be extinct. The resulting wine is something like if pinot noir and syrah had a baby. Fruity, but with distinct framework, color, and spice.
Alfaro Family Vineyard
Santa Cruz Mountains
Established in 1997 on a former apple orchard, grower Richard Alfaro planted his cool climate Corralitos site to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In 2008 he added Grüner Veltliner to the mix (at the time there was only 10 acres in the state). Austrian varietal, grüner veltliner, excels at this site with its sandy soils and maritime-influenced climate. The resulting wine is full of bracing acidity, but also showcases a variety of citrus and stone fruits and a distinct spice that is quintessential of the variety.
In addition to crafting her own wines, Shalini is currently the winemaker for both Waits-Mast Family Cellars where she focuses on pinot noir from Mendocino County and Neely Wine where she crafts estate-grown pinot noir and chardonnay from the Santa Cruz Mountains. To learn more about or to purchase the wines she crafts with her clients, please visit their websites.