Napa winery plays with fire in criticizing fire fighters

April 19, 2010

Dario Sattui

In a reminder as to why many people prefer to remain anonymous in posting comments, particularly those criticizing public servants, a Napa Valley winery has become the target of an intense boycott by local fire fighters–over a Letter to the Editor. [Watch on Sonoma County]

The letter, written by Dario Sattui, owner of  V. Sattui Winery, criticized the wage and benefits package of North Bay firefighters. Published in the St. Helena Star, Sattui’s letter argued, “While I respect the work they do and the inherent dangers, they are greatly overpaid, work only two days a week (a third of which they sleep) and get to retire at 50 years old at 90 percent of their pay after working 30 years.”

Reaction was swift to the April 9th letter. The political director for the Santa Rosa fire fighters union spread the word on Facebook and Twitter, resulting in an avalanche of negative comments being posted on the winery’s Facebook page.

The social networks were also used to call for a boycott of the St. Helena winery. One Facebook page supporting a boycott, set up by a Ukiah paramedic, quickly boasted more than 800 fans.

“I only hope that when your winery is burning down, no fire fighters come to help your business,” one post read. “I hope your business rots in hell in this economy.”

A different Facebook page, entitled “V Sattui Wine Tastes Like Raw Sewage” suggested the winery was engaged in “strange labor practices.”

“Public Safety people who want to stay healthy, and their supporters, should probably avoid V. Sattui wines to avoid gagging as they drink,” suggested another post.

Another post, made by the vice-president of the Santa Rosa Police Officers’ Association, featured a photo of the vintner with the caption, “Our hero…should anyone get flagged down by him or see him choking in a restaurant.”

The photo and caption were abruptly taken down.


Firefighters and police do a tough and absolutely necessary job AND their pay, benefits and especially retirement packages are very good, far and above what the average citizen might ever get or even hope for.

I try real hard not to begrudge what a person makes but when that person’s prosperity comes at my expense and at the expense of taxpayers, I have to pause. Do I want to go broke, to pull more taxes out of my pocket so someone else can get a raise?

Used to be that these types of public servants did these jobs out of a sense of service to their fellow man, a sense of duty to their communities.

But with the way the unions have corrupted the public employees’ thinking, that whole sense of duty as the overriding reason for doing a job has somewhat been lost, replaced by a sense of entitlement.

I blame the unions for corrupting once noble professions. The unions buy off public officials. The unions sponsor and lobby for laws that protect their members’ entitlements (ex.- the requirement for volunteer firemen to be fully trained as if they were full time; the 3% at 50 benefit)).

I agree with Nancy. The city council should haul the fire chief on the carpet and make him tell his minions to knock it off. Then they should launch an investigaition into who sent the Facebook messages that threatened to not put out a fire at the man’s winery and fire them, period.

They may not like criticism. That criticism may be ill informed, but they have absolutely NO business disrespecting the public who pay their salaries.

It used to be in this country, that we could disagree and even defend the other guy’s right to his opinion. But now it seems the norm is to say “shut the hell up you moron” to anyone with whom we disagree.


Why is it that it’s ok that Mr. Sattui can say bad things about firefighters but firefighters can’t stand up for themselves and say hey, fine, I won’t shop at your store?

The thing with Firefighters is they have to save all kinds of people all the time and you rest assured they would save Mr. Sattui’s butt if he needed it and not think twice.


Nothing, if that’s what the firefighters said, but that’s NOT what they said!


Do you think they would still save his life if they weren’t on the clock? I mean COMON that is their job. Yes they do it but lets not forget they aren’t doing it for free either. They are being compensated.


I can see the fire fighters and their union are patrolling the media today. Bring on the thumbs, we know where it’s coming from. Every red stands for A FIRE FIGHTER WAS HERE.


“I only hope that when your winery is burning down, no fire fighters come to help your business,” one post read. “I hope your business rots in hell in this economy.”

This is proof that people are becoming more vicious in this bad economy, everyone should take a hit in this economy or maybe just the 13 extra special families getting more and more rich, off the war and the price of gas, medical treatment, etc.

Anybody out there, have a clue as to what I’m talking about?


Where can I buy Sattui Winery wines?

One man’s fact-laced opinion is small potatoes compared to the damage the firefighters have done to their own reputation by way of their aggressively infantile response.


V Sattui is in Napa. I have been to the their winery and it is quite nice and very good wine. If you like a white zin I would recommend their strawberry blush I think it is. It is strawbery something for sure.

If you like a port try their Maderia it is good.

It is a rustic winery that goes back many years. I also enjoyed the nice staff. I think that it is unfornate that this is happening.

Oh and you can google them and they do deliver through mail if you are wanting to support but can’t get to Napa.


OMG, people still drink White Zin?


Yea people that aren’t wine snobs.


You can only buy V.Sattui wines online at

and at the concrete Tuscan castle he spent 14-year building, but was told by the local fire marshall just before completion that he would have to spend $1 million to sprinkle it, even though the concrete is faced with real brick and stone on both sides. “the wooden casks inside might catch on fire” he was told.

is his final latest project that sits on land he was able to buy during the early 1990’s adjacent his 1870’s era victorian.

Booty JuJu

Could the message be any more clear?

They are not public servants, they are your masters. Above the law and above questioning. You are expected to pay up and shut up – or you will be openly and gleefully destroyed without shame.


I hope Roger Freberg is reading this. He chided myself and others on this blog last summer about not stepping up and using our real names. As I stated then as in now, is that I myself am a local business owner and didn’t want any kind of possible fall out from any posting of MY opinion that might affect my business. Do you get it now Roger?? This article is one of the reasons.


Yes, I do believe that everyone should have the courage of their convictions to place their name on anything they post.

Whether or not I agree with Dario Sattui, I respect his willingness and courage to put his place his John Hancock on his opinions. I can’t help but think what a better nation we’d have with a little upfront honesty.

As for the fire fighters, they have the right to their opinions too, but I think they lost this battle on this by appearing too much like thugs.

As for ‘BeenThereDoneThat”, no I don’t understand… you either have courage or you don’t… apparently, you don’t.

Roger Freberg


Yea Roger screw my own business? That’s not courage my friend, that would be, being a dumba**. To prove to people I don’t even know that that is courage? If you have to prove something to strangers it sounds like you must be lacking my friend. As for honesty read my posts. I don’t think you will find any lies or malicious slandering in hiding the name. It is just as I stated before. Also I don’t have the luxury have using this site to link my own like you do. Not sure of your intentions either.


BTDT – Roger doesn’t have a problem using his own name because he gets on this site and kisses the LEO and their crony as*’s. Have you ever seen him do anything different?


The attack and veiled threats unleashed upon Mr. Dario Sattui, and his Winery are deplorable. I believe that the local citizens should demand that the city council in Napa take immediate action and terminate the Fire Chief unless he brings takes action against the hoodlums that he has placed on the public payroll. I also hope that the local citizenry make their displeasure known by patronizing V. Sattui Winery in a fashion that will triple his average sales. The police and fire fighters take way too many privileges these days and seem to forget who they for.

Speaking of the police, yesterday evening at 5:10 PM I was pulling onto Portolla Road in Atascadero when a SLO County Sheriffs vehicle # 1242 was approaching at a very high rate of speed. He was doing at least 70+ miles per hour, I was going to signal him to slow down but then I figured he was probably on his way to an emergency. Eventually I caught up with him because he way behind a car that was traveling at the speed limit. He never signaled the car to pull over so he could pass, he just traveled behind it for the next two miles and then jumped on the 101. There was obviously no emergency. He was just driving like a bat out of hell because he figured he was above the law. I should have reported him to his watch commander, hopefully I just did.


Sorry folks, I was irritated and typing fast, I didn’t read my post before I hit the submit comment button. I’ve got some silly simple misspellings in there, just read around them.


What a lot of people don’t understand is why Firefighters and Police have the retirements that they do.

1. The physical demands of the job are not easy at the age of 20 let alone at 60.

2. The increase in retirement benefits was negotiated in exchange for pay raises.

3. Yes you ONLY work 10 shifts a month. 24 hour shifts, averages 56 hours a week. Most nights you don’t sleep you are up helping those that need you. You spend many of your days off recovering from the lack of sleep from the work day before.

4. If you are injured on the job and become disabled the “Firemen’s Law” prohibits you from suing for damages the person who caused your injury, even if it was an intentional, criminal or negligent act.

How many of you could do the job of a firefighter or police officer? Visit the local station and find out for yourself.

Paul Deis

Morro Bay Fire Department

Retired, Disabled


Paul Deis

My comment is not a reflection towards your division.

If they had responded this way, the public would not stereotype so negatively.

They’re reactions steer the public in thinking (during a bad economy) not “why” but “how” things may have gotten the way it is or attributed to it.


Paul, I agree that when there is a fire the demands are strenuous. I was considering other jobs that pay far less and are equally strenuous however those jobs when performed are “generally” not encumbered with the constant threat of imminent danger. When you have to dig trenches it isn’t only strenuous, your also working in a precarious environment. I think most of us recognize that. Like wise when FF is working a 24 hour shift they are often called upon as first respondents to accidents, home injuries, heart attack victims and the whole gamut that encompasses everyday emergencies in the lives of the citizens that they serve. Why you choose to work 24 hour shifts is something that only you can explain, it must work for the FF or they would redesign their schedule so I suspect that more night’s than not, the guys to get to sleep during your shift. Regardless I’m not going to empathize with a justification that you guys are so tired after a shift that you can’t enjoy your time off. Where I’m going with this, is that there is a perceived value of time served vs rate of return i.e. salary and benefits. Sure when you save a life there is no value that can be placed upon that service, but then it is your duty and your job to save that life. I’m talking about service as in the hours that you actually work in a year vs the salary and those killer benefits you receive with an early retirement at 50 and 90% of your salary. I also know just how killer your benefits are because I know a retired prison guard that married an acquaintance of mine. She had two adult children ages 19 and 22. The children are both bums and he put them on his excellent health insurance plan, we tax payers all got foot the bill while the 22 year old worked doctors for pain killers that he would sell on the street. Those kinds of benefits are unheard of in the private sector and completely unaffordable. You guys have it made. The response the North Coast FD delivered to the citizen who made mention of these outstanding benefits is uphauling and I hope he finds a legal way to make an example of the North Coast FD and their bully tactics.


Cindy… order for a firefighter to retire at 50 they would have had to start at 20 years old. FYI, it is incredibly competitive for firefighting jobs and not many 20 year olds get hired.

Also, let’s not forget these guys do NOT get lifetime medical… soon as they retire, they pay for it.


“let’s not forget these guys do NOT get lifetime medical… soon as they retire, they pay for it.” I’m surprised to hear that, I assumed that they had at least the same benefits that a prison guard receives! The prison guard that I know retired at 50, he , his new wife and like I said her two adult children were fully covered with a top notch PPO health plan. It cost him out of pocket $5.00 (that’s correct $5.) a month to include them on his county health plan. They had benefits that would easily cost in excessive of $1500.00 a month on a group plan, all paid for by you know who. Well I guess I stand corrected and the FF don’t have it quite as “cushy” as I believed.


There is a lot of assuming going on…..;-)


“How many of you could do the job of a firefighter or police officer? Visit the local station and find out for yourself.”

Mr. Deis, You remind me of a sniveling school teacher, they often make the same statements when justifying their salaries and inflated benefits. “How many of you could do my job, just try it, you wouldn’t last a day”. You are working half the hours that the private sector work and earning twice the pay and triple the benefits of the average tax paying citizen. Something is wrong here and I think the word starts with a “U”. It’s time for the citizens to bite the bullet and let you all strike permanently. Your jobs are easy to fill.


MarkJames….they don’t work “half the hours that the private sector work”…..they work 56 hours a week (straight time). Last time I checked the private sector was 40 hours a week and anything over 40 you get overtime…… I wrong? They also don’t get to take lunch breaks like the private sector, they eat when they can. They also don’t get Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, 4th of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Presidents Day, Veteran’s Day or MLK Jr. Day off like you do.

AND they are not allowed to strike.


Yes, you are wrong. Technically speaking, everyone in both the private and public sector are supposed to get a lunch hour and so on and so on. In REALITY, the only people that get to work 7.5 hour days and have an hour lunch every day are in the public sector. I realize that this may not apply to firefighters, but I can assure you that most of the people I know in the private sector work 50, 60, or even more hours per week… NEVER get to sleep on shift, and always have to take a lunch when they can, if at all. Same reality also applies to the holidays.


Those are some very interesting numbers which unfortunately don’t add up, Mr. Deis. But I think the bottom line here is that public employees actually perceive the statistics with regard to their jobs in a total and complete vacuum. The fact is that many private sector employees work long hours, have dangerous jobs, and don’t get compensated as much. When it comes to the safety, there is a long list of jobs ahead of firefighters or police on the dangerous jobs list.


There is an up side to all this.

We got to see they’re true colors.

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