We're trying out a new theme day around here, kiddos! Certain Wednesday posts will be "Wino Wednesdays" in which we'll discuss wine, try to get our/your questions about wine answered and share some tips and tricks for all of you oenophiles. For the first post in this series, we think it's crucial that you learn a little bit about our friend Gino (Sally's prom date!), who is a fabulous resource for all things wine.
S+S: How did you first become interested in wine?
Gino: My introduction to wine occurred in phases. In second grade, I tried wine at church and always thought it tasted really weird, like sour water. As I got older, I noticed that my parents and their friends used to laugh a lot when they drank wine, usually over some silly tomfoolery. I did not drink wine again until college, when my friends would buy jugs of Carlo Rossi. We called these jugs Cannonballs. I didn't fully appreciate the craft of wine, however, until I took my first wine and viticulture class my sophomore year at Cal Poly.
S+S: Wow, we haven't thought about Carlo Rossi in a long time. What happened next?
Gino: From there, I was lucky enough to work a harvest in Rheinhessen Germany, where I spent 6 months slaving as an intern in the vineyards and the cellar. As a cellar rat, I learned that the creation of wine is far more extensive than just filling cannonballs with sour red food-colored water. I would say that the experience in Germany provided a nice introduction to white wine, where varietals such as Riesling, Sylvaner, Weisbugunder (aka Pinot Blanc), and Muller Thurgau are king.
S+S: Sounds like an incredible experience! Also, we haven't heard of 3 out of 4 of those varietals. What did you do after college?
Gino: After earning a wine and viticulture minor, I decided to work one last crush with Unti Vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley. In this experience, I learned a couple lessons:
- In California, red wine varietals such as Syrah, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel are king
- The red wine making experience was far more extensive than the white wine process I learned in Germany
- Do not volunteer to clean a grape press if you are claustrophobic
- It takes a lot of beer to make good wine
S+S: You are really making us want to go crush some grapes. What's kept you busy since the harvest experiences?
Gino: Since then I have sold Italian wine for Vinity Wine Company in San Francisco. Most importantly, I was able to work with some authentic Italians who taught me the art of making a perfect espresso and plate of pasta. After my sales stint with Vinity, I took a dive into the retail side of the wine industry helping to open Rootstock Wine Bar in Los Gatos. Currently, as the sales director for Gregory Condes Wines, I am working with an esoteric and eclectic selection that spans the globe.
S+S: What's the best part of your job?
Gino: After all of these great experiences with wine, I still gain the most enjoyment from the stories behind a bottle of wine. It is truly exciting to meet winemakers who put the amount of blood, sweat, and tears that go into each bottle.
If you have wine-related questions for Gino, send 'em our way!