• Going Italian

    April 23, 2018 16:46

    Going Italian

    What do you get when you combine 74 lovers of Italian food, wine and heritage? A wonderful evening where Pedroncelli wines were poured, delicious food was served and great conversations flourished. My parents Jim and Phyllis joined me as we talked about our history in Sonoma County and our roots in Italy to this group at a dinner sponsored by the North Bay Italian Cultural Foundation (NBICF) held at Riviera Ristorante in Santa Rosa.

    My family has deep Italian roots via my grandparents who arrived separately with their families from northern Italy in the early 1900s; my grandmother came with her mother and sister who met up with my great-grandfather in Redding, California. My grandfather traveled as a teenager with his sister when she was betrothed to marry a fellow Italian in Dunsmuir, California. Years later my grandfather Giovanni was selling vegetables to the hotel run by my great-grandparents and met my grandmother Julia on one of his stops. The rest was history and a few years later the young family, with three children-Margaret, Marianne and John, pulled up roots and moved to Geyserville where there was a home, a vineyard to tend and a shuttered winery waiting out Prohibition. I think part of the reason they moved to this area was because of the many other Italians who had made Dry Creek Valley home.

    The connection with NBICF began when my aunt Marianne moved back to Sonoma County in the early 1980s after working for the State of California. She joined this Italian-focused group as a way to network and find new friends. She was very proud of her heritage as an Italian-American, accent on the Italian. She practiced her Italian in small groups, traveled and went to many events over those years. We have kept in touch with NBICF since she passed away. They even started a scholarship in her name for any student wanting to continue their Italian language education at Santa Rosa Junior College.

    All in all we ‘went Italian’ along with everyone else at the dinner and enjoyed making new friends and visiting with old ones as well. Pedroncelli, after all, is Italian for La Dolce Vita. Saluti a tutti.

  • Port of Call

    November 18, 2014 13:01

    I had a synchronicity moment this week. I set up my blog topics ahead of time and had scheduled this bit about semi generic wine terms and our Port for today. Last week a reporter from our local paper, The Press Democrat, called to talk about this issue-and the article was published Sunday. Timing is everything as they say. On with the story: Not too long ago I attended a meeting with several wineries about the use of what we call ‘semi-generic’ terms for wine. We made our arguments in favor of keeping some of the terminology because ultimately it would mean a huge re-education process and renaming of some very familiar wine terms. We currently use Four Grapes Vintage Port for our dessert wine. From the 1930s through the 1960s we used semi generic terms like Claret, Burgundy and Chablis-which have all been replaced by their varietally-correct names of Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. And the word Port is up for discussion, again, with the European Union. They have allowed us, so far, to use it because we made this wine before the first ruling in 2006. Now we just might be stopped from all uses of semi-generic terms completely. I want you to imagine trying to re-invent the term Port so that when you are in the market for one from U.S. wineries you would know what kind of wine it is. Fortified Wine (too scary and not allowed as a labeling term).  Dessert Wine (too broad). Proprietary term like Ort-Pay (unclear on the concept).  Other varietals are easily identified as to what type of wine they are because the wine industry has done a huge amount of education-you know a Cabernet Sauvignon from a Chardonnay. Changing the name of our Port would make it difficult to market not only for us but for many of the other wineries who make it. Imagine, if you will, the following scene in our tasting room: this used to be called Port but now we are barred from using the term; we call it by the varietally correct name of Tinta Madeira, Tinta Cao, Souzao and Touriga Nacional. Here’s hoping we can work something out before it gets too drastic.

    For more information, here is the full article by Bill Swindell.