Michael Bonaccorsi, rising winemaker and former sommelier at Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant, Spago, died Wednesday, apparently of a heart attack at his condominium in the Santa Barbara County town of Buellton, where he lived while attending to business for Bonaccorsi Wine Co. He was 43.
Chi native’s company produced pinot noir, chardonnay and syrah wines. He also had a home in Santa Monica and had been scheduled to present some of his wines at a tasting Thursday night in Los Angeles. Friends and family became alarmed when the punctual Bonaccorsi did not appear. Local authorities found his body.
Puck lamented “the loss of this gifted man and his potential.”
Bonaccorsi managed Spago’s wine cellar and oversaw wine service there for a decade. He also did staff training for Puck’s other restaurants.
The winemaker was accredited as a master sommelier by the London-based Court of Master Sommeliers.
U. of Illinois grad got a business degree and became interested in wines while working at a nearby restaurant. He moved to San Francisco to be closer to the wine country and became sommelier at Masa’s in 1988. He also worked harvests at Sonoma County wineries and later in the Burgundy region of France.
Survivors include his wife, Jenne Lee, maitre d’ at Spago in Beverly Hills; his parents; seven brothers; four sisters; and 18 nieces and nephews.