I can’t really say that I’ve had any mentors. Maybe I started too late in (my wine) life (30s), or maybe the timing just didn’t work out. But I can say I’ve had a lot of good people help me along the way, people with very little time (or cause, beyond my simple request) to do so.
One of those people, actually it was a family effort, as most things are in Italy, is Marina Fogarty at the family estate of Antonio Vallana e Figlio, in Alto Piemonte. Marina is a busy lady, she’s in charge of the vineyards (primarily, everyone wears all the hats when necessary). Vineyard work is tough work. It’s long, hard, dirty hours spread across three seasons, and there is always something to do. Always. That she took 8 hours out of her day to help me learn is a debt I’ll never be able to repay. But maybe this is how we feel with all the great teachers in our lives, the selfless professionals that give their time because it’s the right thing to do – to pay it forward. I learned a lot that day. In fact, I still find myself recalling a nugget here and there that she shared with me that day as we drove to each of their vineyard locations. That’s nearly eight years ago now. Which reminds me, if you’ve not looked into the wines of Alto Piemonte and/or Vallana (one word: Supervolcano!) yet, you need to do so, post-haste.
So it’s people like Marina that have inspired me to share with you, the reader. There are many other winegrowers and viticulturists around the world to whom I’m also grateful; their passion, integrity and selflessness has inspired me to do the same: Pass it on.
And the motivation part, well, that comes down to just two things: (1) Sheldon and Pauline Wasserman, and their body of work produced nearly 30 years ago (Italy’s Noble Red Wines), and (2) the chance to find out what I don’t yet know.