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Stephen Louis Pessagno, Sr., 55, of Salinas, passed away peacefully in his home on Sunday, June 9, 2013. He was born May 26, 1958, in San Francisco to Aldo and Anita Pessagno.
Steve was an active member of and advocate for the Monterey wine industry, founding family-owned Pessagno Winery in 1999 to fulfill a 20-year dream of producing high-quality, exclusive local wines. Inspired by crushing over-ripe Zinfandel grapes for the first time at his grandfather's ranch in 1974, Steve pursued his passion for winemaking as Assistant Winemaker and Vineyard Manager for Kirigin Cellars, and then as Vice President and Winemaker for Jekel Vineyards and Lockwood Vineyard. His deep love for winemaking and the Monterey area culminated in Pessagno Winery, where he crafted full-bodied wines from distinctive local vineyards and engaged the community with countless social events and paella feasts. He was a leader of the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association, the Knights of the Vine, the Monterey County Planning Commission, and numerous other organizations.
He graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Santa Clara University in 1980, and a B.S. in Enology & Food Science from California State University, Fresno in 1986. At Santa Clara and during a short stint as an engineer, he conducted innovative research on using alternative fuel sources for combustion engines and facilities. He also will be remembered as a proud baseball coach for his four sons, an avid hunter and fisherman, and a talented engineer and craftsman.
Steve is survived by his four sons, Anthony, Stephen, Robert, and John; his mother, Anita; his sister, Elaine Offenbach (Randy); his companion, Jeri Crittenden, and the mother of his sons, Janet. He was preceded in death by his father, Aldo and his best friend in duck hunting, black Labrador Keno.
The family will host a private memorial to honor Steve's memory at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Steve Pessagno Memorial Scholarship Fund, Knights of the Vine, 410 Branner Ave., Monterey, CA 93940, or to the donor's favorite charity.
Arrangements by the Struve and Laporte Funeral Home. For more information please visit www.struveandlaporte.com
Struve and Laporte Funeral Chapel
41 West San Luis Salinas, CA 93901
Published in The Salinas Californian on June 15, 2013