Friuli Venezia Giulia Region of Italy
There’s nothing quite like jumping head first into the unknown, but that’s exactly what I did this past April in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy. It was the maiden voyage for Stelvio, and I didn’t have a clue of what to expect. Yes, I’ve visited plenty of wineries across the globe, but never as a distributor. Never critiquing the wine to see if it had a place in a market. I had also visited Friuli on a number of occasions, but always on the bike. And you can’t soak up much of the area at 30mph.
With the help of Bobby Stuckey, unofficial mayor of Friuli, I mapped out my two weeks in the region, focusing on wineries he had visited in the past but had yet to be represented in the US. Sounded simple enough.
Upon arriving at the hotel, I was greeted by Elena Orzan, owner of the Enoteca di Cormons, she turned out to be my private guide. And when I broke my elbow – at a bike race in Belgium – towards the end of the trip, she even spent the day with me dealing with the Italian hospital system, but that’s another story.
What quickly became apparent, I would have a tough time keeping my checkbook closed. From Petrussa to Roncus, each wine visit just got that much better. And the people…the people are some of the friendliest I’ve ever come across. How I made it out of there without buying a house, I’ll never know.
I was ambitious to think I could visit 3-4 different producers in a day. Instead, I’d find myself spending hours and often one or two meals with the families of the growers. Opening one rare vintage after another, I began to wonder why I hadn’t gotten into this business years ago.
At the end of the trip, I may have gone a little long on whites from Friuli for my portfolio, but if that’s a mistake, I look forward to making more of them in the near future! Again, I am still blown away with how warmly everyone welcomed me. Even those that I didn’t purchase wine from still keep in contact with me via email. You really are family for life when you step onto their properties.
If I could make one recommendation to anyone visiting Friuli, don’t waste any time, go directly to see Elena in Cormons to get everything dialed in. She guided me through each visit and often acted as a translator as well as turned me on to new brands. The trip wouldn’t have been the same without her.
I’ve included a guide that the team at Frasca Food and Wine put together. If you’re planning a visit, remember that using the words “Colorado, Frasca or Stuckey” will get you a table at any restaurant at any time.