Wine Director / Owner
Prior to joining PRIMA in 1994, Owner/Wine Director John Rittmaster founded and directed the Robert Mondavi/Opus One Pacific Rim sales and marketing office in Tokyo, Japan. Before joining Robert Mondavi, he worked in the international training department of Kobe Steel, a multi-national steel firm based in Kobe, Japan. Rittmaster’s degree in Art History and advanced studies in Art and Asian Studies, along with speaking fluent Japanese, provided the launching pad for his successful career.
Rittmaster’s passion for wine began while on his own honeymoon while attending a wedding where the father of the bride brought out some incredible wines. He was inspired to learn more and subsequently went with his the new bride (now of 25 years) to California wine county. “During that first visit I began to understand why wine fascinated me. I discovered that wine is a lot like my other passion – art. The fun is in how both pursuits are abstract and subjective,” says Rittmaster. It was after that trip, that he began collecting wine and aggressively pursuing learning all he could about the wine industry. This, in turn, led to his being recruited by Robert Mondavi in Japan.
After fifteen years there, Rittmaster left Japan in 1993 and moved to Northern California and worked for the venerable wine merchant, Draper and Esquin until joining PRIMA where he has increased annual sales for the full service wine merchant from $250,000 in 1994 to close to $4 million today.
Rittmaster leads an accomplished staff of wine experts, all of whom possess an incredible passion for the business and knowledge of PRIMA’s vast inventory. PRIMA is also nationally recognized as a leading source for eclectic, artisan wines produced by some of the world’s most sought after producers small from around the world; and it’s one of Northern California’s most important destination for Spanish, Antipodean and Italian wines. PRIMA’s staff takes pride in helping customers locate distinctive, fun-to-drink wines that stand apart from all the rest at any price point.