Roscioli Italian Wine Club: A Look Back on 2021

In An American in Rome, Articles, Wine Insights & Thoughts by Lindsay GabbardLeave a Comment


What a year!

Despite another year of continued dismal headlines, I can't but help pause and reflect for a moment to celebrate a year of unforgettable vineyard visits and achievements for the Roscioli Wine Club.  Scrolling though photos and videos from the last year literally left me in tears.  These have been the greatest 6 years of my life, 2021 included.

Like most of 2020, January and February were still very much a blur with restrictions, curfews and closed restaurants. Thankfully, behind the curtains, the vaccine rollout had begun in the US giving much hope to us here in Rome of having visitors again.

On March 18, we achieved something no wine club has done.  It took nearly a year of closures, but we visited over 300 vineyards, taking a video of each one, watching our staff pivot into positions which gave them more happiness and satisfaction, finding video editors, hundreds of hours of editing, but this allowed us to create an easy to scan, personalized QR code on the back of every bottle of wine included in our wine club which linked to a video of the winemaker, their vineyards, pairing ideas, and info on what you are really drinking (unfortunately the shipper didn't place them well rendering many of them useless, but we made some massive improvements for the Fall shipment, incorporating them directly onto a private back label to make bottles which are totally unique for our members).  In a way, we have to be grateful, as having a fully booked restaurant every day, would have never permitted the time to get this far ahead.

Our Spring Wine Club 2 Shipment also saw the launch of our baby (and mini-masterpiece if I may), InSumma- a private amphora wine made only for Roscioli Wine Club members - and one of our most memorable experiences and wines ever. Inspired by winery in a 2,000 year old ancient villa (likely of Rome's first emperor Augustus) discovered buried by an eruption of Vesuvius, not far from Pompeii, InSumma transformed an experience which could become a lost, dusty memory into a new one which will be shared in the future.

April 20 - Beppe Neri, neuroscientist and wine passionate, had become our most watched video on Youtube with 15,000 views which gave us a great pleasure in knowing that people had a deeper curiosity about culture, philosophy and neuroscience and its evolution in relation to wine.


On May 6
, Alessandro organized a private violin and piano concert in the 10th century crypt of Sant'Alessio in Rome where we tried to elevate our senses and perceptions to ultimately extract more pleasure and awareness of the moment and from what we were drinking. Phones were tossed away, silence ensued, the vibrations of various centuries of music moved us and we deeply savored what was in our glasses. I invite you to recreate a similar moment for yourself without the disruption of your phone, with live music if possible, and close your eyes to deeply take in the moment.

Mid-May, I experienced possibly 5 of the most moving days of my life. I was one of 4 women sommeliers discussing wine with a new and fresh perspective with my colleagues, questioning all we were taught that matters from sommelier schools, venting our frustrations in a male dominated industry, getting lost and somehow finding new truths, as we visited artisans and big names alike from Palladino, Roagna, Rinaldi, Rivetti, Rivella, to Gaja (stay tuned for future video releases and winemaker collaborations with the aforementioned). 

And two stories which hit home more intimately were those of 2 expats in Barolo - Feline and Tom - two beautiful souls who both have overcome many struggles and challenges through planting and working with vines. These 5 days culminated in an absolute rarity and party uniting 15 Piemontese winemakers, invoking Dionysus with dancing singing to the midnight moon. New Netflix series, anybody?

May 26 brought yet another personal highlight - for my pre-birthday celebration Alessandro and I slipped out during curfew and headed from Salotto42 over to a deserted Piazza Navona, with four new German friends, a bottle of Krug, six wine glasses, and our NY friend John Meadow where we all toasted to life, dreams and my 40th. For that hour, I felt like the empress of Rome!

By mid-summer travel from abroad had resumed, slowly, and life had found a new normal with a revival of the streets, an abundance of outdoor dining, drinking in piazzas and and sunset hour strolls. Those of you who came to visit, I hope you'll never forget all the images imprinted by your eyes.

The continued theme of the summer was about women and somehow finding our way.  Myself, Giulia (our photographer) and friend Rachel took a road trip back up to the Langhe to reconnect with our friends Rizzi, Paitin, Trediberri, Tom and others. This was followed with a trip down to Cantina Possa in the Cinque Terre for one of the most awe-invoking winemaker visits and interviews we have ever done. Heydi Bonanini, heroic winemaker who is recovering centuries of tradition on near vertical terrain, literally crumbling into the sea in front of us, shared the everyday stories we hear of people abandoning the land, in search of a more prosperous career, as we sniffed and pondered the 1,300+ plants, aromatic herbs, and indigenous grapes and boundless biodiversity in this area which sadly gets overlooked everyday by people below shopping at souvenir stores.

(You can turn on English subtitles by going to settings)

By August, I was able to make a homeland voyage to start scouting for NY partners and locations, excitedly reuniting with many members of the wine club at Corkbuzz.

Seeds were planted...

And, around this time the press had also started noticing what we were up to - Forbes, Food & Wine, la Repubblica, and others began publishing stories on the Roscioli Italian Wine Club.

On August 20 serendipity, coincidence or fate (or all three working together) would bring the brilliant female entrepreneur, Ariel Arce, and somehow 'business soul sister of Alessandro' to Rimessa Roscioli for an aperitivo which finished at 3am.  The seeds planted earlier that month started sprouting, but we still had a waiting game to play where we anticipated the long overdue, reciprocal opening of US border for EU citizens.

August 28 was yet another best night of my life - it was Alessandro and I's six year anniversary. We celebrated from possibly the best terrace of Rome (and the famous one from Ieri, Oggi e Domani) which served as a reminder that you can live like an emperor or empress in this town if you know how to seize the moment.  Follow us, me and our YouTube channel for a how-to guidebook.

On September 24 it was confirmed that music had found its way into every event we organized. Music has elevated our appreciation of life and wine in ways you can't even imagine. Find a way to add music, especially live music, into your life and watch the beauty which ensues... Alessandro organized a concert with the famous Danilo Blaiota and violinist Giorgio Sasso, uniting classical music with improvisational jazz, Rimessa Roscioli wine and food catering, in the private terrace and garden at Sant'Alessio featuring never-ending views of Rome and an infinite sky above.

Also in September, and thanks to the immensity of our employees, the return of travelers, outdoor seating and a new found Roman following, we celebrated Rimessa Roscioli's best month as a company. A hugely welcomed breath of fresh air after never having stopped during 2020 or 2021.

November brought us to I Borboni, to continue our project with la Repubblica, and left my heart absolutely wrenched.  4 years ago this vineyard left an unforgettable stamp on my heart and sadly we got the tragic news that nearly all the vineyards had been lost due to climatic changes and devastating winds which leveled centuries of heritage.  Aversa is a region which boasted a tradition of vigne maritate, 18 meter tall vineyards 'married' between poplar trees (the ladder in the video below goes to only 12 meters), which were managed by only a few remaining local heroes with the skills, desire and passion to upkeep a risky tradition.  I beg you to watch the story below (and don't forget to turn on the EN subtitles).



Then, in late November
we were off to Sardinia where we discovered one of the best wines we have ever come across, ever (Wine Club 2 member spoiler - we literally tagged a tonneaux for you).  Beyond fantastic wine, the three generation story touched our hearts. We met a grandfather who plants vines out of passion, a father who adored the vines yet was forced to work in the horrific conditions of the biggest coal mine of the EU - which ultimately would close creating a mass exodus and totally abandoned land - and an out-of-the-ordinary son who despite all the devastation of the area has gallantly decided to continue the 70 year old tradition (with only a handful of others) which is on the verge of being lost forever.

Yet another never to be forgotten visit was to Neoneli, a tiny hilltop village with a mere 600 inhabitants of which nearly 200 make wine, where we attempted to blend another Roscioli exclusive wine, in a region where only a few years ago bottled wine for the first time. The soul of this place is of Samuel, Salvatore Marco and their 19 year old apprentice studying enology (who literally left the party and discotheque scene for the deep breath of happiness and contentment he finds in the vines). You'll absolutely have to watch the video (coming soon!) to see the young tenors in this region, having passed 3,000 years in a poverty which never allowed for proper musical instruments, brilliantly sing songs which imitated the sounds of animals from the region, which vibrate at the deepest depths of your soul.

And how could we almost forget the mesmerizing shock and surprise of selling out 600 tickets in twelve hours for our NY events in December, following the launch of a newsletter titled 'Start Spreading the News...we're finally able to come to the Big Apple!'?

From December 2 to 9 you will have found us in NYC, where the seeds we had planted in August and tended to in the Fall came bursting to life.  As soon as we got news the borders were opening after 18 months, we moved mountains in a matter of a few weeks to make this week happen.  6 sommeliers, 3 chefs, nightly fresh pasta demos, 800 bottles of wine, 3 venues, 600 attendees, 3 women vocalists, 10 jazz artists and musicians, for a Dionysian week of madness and endless fun! The talks are already in place for how to bring our Italian spirit full time to NYC.  Stay tuned!

Watch out 2022...here we come!  
 
This was a year about collaborations, celebrating women, all our uniqueness and power, creativity and breaking borders, which we will only expound upon next year.  Wine, while still at the center of all we do, has moved slightly to the background, as we put life, art, music and creativity at the forefront of all we do.  For the sake of space (and maybe a future novel), I've left out countless of other winemaker visits and memorable moments.  My 2022 promise - we'll continue to make this the most unbelievable, incredible, unique, culturally rich and delicious Italian wine club ever!
If you're not already a member, join us - we'll bring you to all the magical vineyards we discover and allow you to discover a deeper, more Dionysian side of wine!


On a personal note,
the deepest thank you to Alessandro whose volcanic, passionate spirit has made much of this possible.  And so much gratitude to all our super dedicated, always pivoting employees who roll daily with the punches the last couple years have brought.  You have become my family.  And to our winemakers, their passion and their stories which help us to travel territories and history though wine and to all of you who support us virtually, locally, and by having the patience to read more words than any supposed marketing expert will ever recommend us to write! Grazie!

Make it a effervescent and memorable New Year!!

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