What is a 'Cal-Ital' Wine?


I couldn’t be more excited to introduce my Italian: A Tale Of Two Worlds pack, which I will refer to as ‘Cal-Ital’ pack, to you next week. You might be wondering, 'Laura, what IS a 'Cal-Ital'? Don't worry, you're not alone.

I first learned of the term ‘Cal-Ital’ while working on the opening of B.R Guest Hospitality’s first fine dining Italian restaurant. We curated a selection of Italian wines and California wines made with grapes indigenous to Italy for an authentic Italian experience. We chose wines made in California from beloved grapes such as Nebbiolo, Barbera, Sangiovese, and Vermentino.

In the 1980’s the term “Cal-Ital” was created to describe the growing trend of California vintners who planted Italian grapes. These vintners brought their wine-making know-how and cuttings of trusted and loved grapevines to the USA when they immigrated - some even filling up suitcases with their beloved vines!



I chose to put this pack together because I wanted to illustrate how the same grape can have totally different aromas and flavors when it is grown in a different place. We’ll be experiencing two wines from the New World, and two from the Old World.

The New World wines are fruitier and the Old World Wines are more subtle and earthy while still sharing other similarities, such as flavors. I like to fantasize about our great-grandparents coming from Italy with their suitcases filled with cuttings of vines and hope that the “ New World” would bring great opportunity.

 Old World vines in Tuscany

Old World vines in Tuscany

Nowadays, only a handful of vintners continue to explore the possibilities of Italian grapes in California. With such esoteric grapes, these wines allow us to find very good quality wines with a luxurious feel without breaking the bank, so long as we know just where to look.

Be sure to send me an email or message on social media and let me know your feedback on this pack. I am going to make a big pot of Sunday sauce and compare and contrast these 4 wines. Cheers.

Weekly Tasting Master Sommelier

Laura Maniec, owner and CEO of Corkbuzz Wine Studio,  has spent her entire career in wine.  Laura is one of only 32 women in the world to pass her Master Sommelier Exam (at the age of 29!!).  Since opening Corkbuzz, The Wall Street Journal has dubbed Laura the "It Girl" of the New York wine scene, Crain’s New York Business honored her as one of their “40 Under 40,” Food & Wine magazine named her one of 2013’s “Sommeliers of the Year” and Wine Enthusiast included her in their list of "Top 40 Tastemakers Under 40."  Laura’s goal of making wine approachable and fun, while keeping the spirit of always learning and exploring, makes her the perfect guide for your wine experience.