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CCOF Celebrates Life of Organic Advocate, Peter E. Molinari

by Shawna Rodgers |

It may come as no surprise to learn that those in the CCOF community are often connected through multiple generations of organic farming and community. It is never easy to say goodbye to a member of our community, but it is easy to honor the life and legacy they leave behind. The following obituary was provided to CCOF by Molinari’s granddaughter, Tessa Molinari. 

“Organic, CCOF-certified farmer and grape grower Peter E. Molinari passed away peacefully at his Marin home the morning of December 25,2022, nine days before his 98th birthday. In memory of our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, the family prefers donations to be made in his honor to the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) Foundation so they may continue their important work in advancing and assisting organic farmers. Donations will be accepted via check or online

My grandfather, Peter Edward Molinari, was born on January 3, 1925, in Saint Helena, California, to Ruby Edith Molinari and Peter Molinari. He would often reminisce about his young years on the family ranch in Saint Helena amongst the prunes, walnuts, peaches, persimmons, and grapes, recalling his mother gardening, pickling, and canning fruits and vegetables each summer. When I would comment on what a joyous childhood of frolicking in fields of fruit it must have been, he would correct me, teasingly, saying: “Of course we could never eat the profit,” or, “There wasn’t time for playing, only working.” Although I doubt my grandfather was ever deprived of a belly full of prunes, he dreamt of a life away from the grind of the family farm.

My grandfather attended St. Helena high school before graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in engineering. He served in the U.S. armed forces overseas, married my grandmother in 1951, and raised a family of four in Marin County. Throughout busy family life and commuting to San Francisco throughout his years of employment in the city, the family ranch would remain near and dear to his heart.

During the 1970s and 1980s, our family’s farm went through changes of its own. Fruit orchards were converted to wine grape vines, and pesticide use was in full swing to keep up with the times. Peter increasingly felt called home. He started spending more and more time behind the tractor amongst the vine rows, especially after his retirement in 1990. His interest and investment in the land began to blossom, and a new business relationship was formed with CCOF-certified Frog’s Leap Winery in Rutherford. This partnership required our family to transition to organic. My grandfather knew it was the right move towards a better future for our family and for our farm.

I remember a phone call from him I answered from my freshman college dorm room. He said, “You’ll be happy to know that our family vineyard is going to be organic!” Although neither of us knew I would later become an organic farmer myself, he understood that as someone studying environmental studies, I would appreciate the improved impact organic farming methods had on the earth. He continued, “We’re spreading this stuff called gypsum now. Do you know what that is?” I could hear the pride and enthusiasm in his voice for learning and changing.

In 2004, the 10.5 acres of Molinari Zinfandel, the entirety of what remains of the original farm, was certified organic. The Molinari family is grateful and privileged to still be farming six generations later and proud to be a continued part of the organic movement and of CCOF.”

“Tessa Henry (Molinari)

Farm Manager, Clif Family Winery & Farm (2018-present)

Garden Assistant, Frog’s Leap Winery (2007-2018)”

For any questions about how your donation will be used by the CCOF Foundation, please contact our donor relations manager, Shawna Rodgers at