Many times while pouring wine in our tasting room, we are asked how we became winemakers, and how it was that we found ourselves in the small town of Sutter Creek, California, all the way from the big city of Atlanta, Georgia.
Both of us worked in Atlanta for a number of years, employed in predominantly sales and marketing positions. We traveled extensively in our careers, and spent a majority of our work-week on an airplane. We knew that we wanted to settle down one day, get off of the airplanes, and work for ourselves in a business that we both loved and enjoyed. We researched several business opportunities, but nothing spoke to our heart.
Then came September 11, 2001, and our lives were forever changed. As with many people, this horrific event caused self-reflection and intense introspection with regards to the way we were spending our precious gift of life. Stefano and I soon realized that we wanted to change our lifestyles as quickly as possible.
We reflected on past trips to my wine-making family near Avio, Italy. While there, we noticed how happy and content my Italian family members were, and envied the ease in which they lived their lives. No 6:00 a.m. flights or hour-long commutes to the office, and they were genuinely happy. Their work-day consisted of and revolved around doing things as a family. They enjoyed breakfast together, tended the vineyards together, and usually ate dinner together; thereby developing a closeness that is hard to put into words. My husband and I both longed for this way of life, and envied the ease and fulfillment in their lives. We wondered if this was something that we could do, and as a result, made another trip to Italy.
|Paul (Lisa's dad) with friends in Italy enjoying Vino|
We asked my uncles, Nino, Giorgio, Giancarlo and Paolo (see black & white photo on the left), if we could help them in the vineyards and to give us a basic “grape-growing and wine-making 101” course. We soon fell in love with the process, and realized that this was not only something that we enjoyed doing, but it was our calling. We had finally found the passion we had been searching for.
Upon our return to the U.S., we spent several months researching the grape-growing and wine-making industries. We had always been home wine-makers, treating it as a part-time hobby, but now it began to take on a whole new light.. We started buying grapes from California and flying them to Atlanta, giving us “hands-on” experience and knowledge in our winemaking repertoire.
We made several trips back to Italy, each time gaining more insight into how we could realize the dream of our own vineyard & winery, and the processes with which to turn it into a successful business.
We decided to look for a piece of property in California, and Stefano spent several weeks traveling the state’s wine-producing regions. When he found Amador County, he picked up the phone and called me to say he’d found the region in which we were going to live. Amador County is very reminiscent of Italy’s terrain and climate, and it simply spoke to him. He told me how he had stopped for lunch at a local restaurant where he overheard people discussing grapes, wine production, etc. Stefano simply approached the group, introduced himself, and told them our story. They were more than willing to help him realize his dream in any way they could.
Luckily, Stefano found a very knowledgeable real-estate agent, and reviewed several properties before finding what we now call home. He was so sure of this piece of land that he put an offer on it before I even saw it! He cut his trip short, came home, and told me all about it. We immediately jumped on a plane so that we could see it together. It was absolutely perfect; soon thereafter, we were living on our property, Avio Vineyards & Winery. The local newspaper wrote an article on us entitled "Avio owners find 'La Bella Vita' in Amador County" Click here to read article
Stefano and I look back and reminisce at how such an evil act of cowardice such as September 11 could give birth to such a wonderful dream for the both of us. We thank God for giving us the courage of our convictions, and we thank our Italian relatives for showing us how to slow down and enjoy life. They gave us the clarity to realize what is truly important in life; family. And when people ask why we did all of this, I simply smile as my uncles do, and reply “we do this per l’amore di familglia” – for the love of family.