A fifth-generation Sonoma County native, Christopher Silva is firmly rooted in Sonoma County agriculture. He was raised in a family of Petaluma dairy farmers, and nine years after graduating from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, he retired from practicing law to join St. Francis Winery. At the age of 38, he became President & CEO of St. Francis in 2003. He understands firsthand that a farmer’s footprint and intimate knowledge of the soil, microclimates and terroir of the region are the most important ingredients for healthy vines.
As President & CEO of St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, Chris has a specific focus: crafting world class Sonoma wine. St. Francis is best known for luscious, elegant, fruit driven Sonoma County Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and “Old Vines” Zinfandel. Widely awarded as a quality leader, St. Francis is committed to being the premier producer of handcrafted Sonoma wines in each of its categories. Additionally, St. Francis was named “#1 Restaurant in America” by OpenTable in 2013 in recognition of its farm to table wine and food pairings offered on site to Winery visitors each day.
Under Chris’ leadership, St. Francis has also been recognized for its many green practices. A 457-kilowatt Solar Energy System, installed in 2004, provides up to 40% of the Winery’s energy from the sun. St. Francis has taken aggressive steps in water and creek conservation, recycling, eco-friendly packaging, and created an on-site sustainable vegetable garden to support its culinary programs. St. Francis is Certified Sustainable by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.
Committed to mentorship and community involvement, Chris served on the Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Sonoma County and is now on the Dean’s National Advisory Board of the UNLV Harrah College of Hotel Administration. In 2011 he was honored by UNLV as the “Food & Beverage Industry Executive of the Year” and was named “2011 Healthy Business Leader” by the Northern California Center for Well Being in recognition of his workforce wellness initiatives at St. Francis. In recent years, North Bay Business Journal has repeatedly named St. Francis Winery & Vineyards one of the “Best Places to Work” in Northern California.
Chris was elected Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for 2011. In 2014 he was elected Chairman of the Santa Rosa Junior College Wine Studies Advisory Board. His son Joseph and daughter Sydney are sixth-generation Sonoma County natives and attend local public school, where Chris served on their School District Foundation Board. He has taught college classes in legal research and legal writing, and lectures nationally regarding wine, law, and business. Chris’ life story and approach to running a business have been featured in The New York Times, Luxist, AOL Daily Finance, and Corporate Wellness Magazine.
“Our time at St. Francis will not be measured in years. It will be measured by the contributions each one of us makes—as individuals—to constantly improving the quality of our grapes and our wines. ‘Good enough’ is contrary to our mission.”