Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tony Coturri Marathon Tasting

In the days before Whole Foods wiped out small independent organic grocery stores like Real Foods in San Francisco, I bought Cotturi wines there and at other local health food stores. The wines were like none other I'd had up to that point. And, even now, they're pretty damn inimitable. Tony doesn't gussy up his wines. They are what they are. As is he.

Tony never manipulates his wines. His grapes aren't treated with pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. He doesn't add sulfites, or yeast cultures, or concentrates to boost sweetness or flavor. He doesn't add acids, sugar, water. His formula for making wine is deceptively simple: fermented grapes.

Winemaking runs deep in the Coturri family. Tony's grandfather, Enrico, made wine in Farneta, Italy, which is just outside of Lucca.  Enrico arrived in San Francisco in 1901 with ten bucks in his pocket. He found work as a barrel cooper and, in 1906, helped rebuild San Francisco after the Great Earthquake & Fire. During Prohibition, Harry "Red" Coturri, Tony's father, learned from Enrico how to make wine using the traditional methods of the old country. Although Tony has been making wine since 1964, the winery was started in 1979 by "Red," Tony, and his brother Phil. "Dad always said 'never put anything in the garden that you wouldn't put in your mouth,'" Tony says.

Coturri Winery is a family business. A third-generation winemaker, Tony works alongside Phil, who is considered Sonoma's leading organic viticulturalist, and he's schooling his son Nic in the craft of winemaking.

The tasting was scheduled to go from two to five pm. Tony poured until almost eight! People really enjoyed meeting him and tasting his wines. And Tony didn't want to stop sharing his wines with our customers.

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