October 06 • Winemaker
There’s a lot to be said for garages.
I mean, we all know what they’re meant to do. But who really uses them for what they’re intended? Why park your car in there when you could build on your gains, play dungeons and dragons or even make wine?
We all know the classic story of Dave Grohl and Nirvana. Created in Grohl’s friend’s garage, it quickly became one of the most iconic bands of the 90’s. Starting something iconic in a garage is something people these days strive for, not run away from.
Now, I’m not even going to pretend to try and pinpoint the exact year that Nirvana began their angry garage rage. However, I am going call on a year from the 90’s. And that year is 1995 – the year that Craig Colagrossi decided it would be a good idea to make the wine that he loved out of his garage.
If you’re an Italian, you know an Italian, or you’ve been to Italy, there’s a good chance that you’re familiar with their love of wine. Craig is annexed somewhere beautifully in the middle, right between Italy and California. His Italian heritage has made it so that he just can’t ignore what Italians love to do best – drink wine.
How much do you think a garage, or a person in a garage, knows about wine? Not a whole lot. These early experimental years were full of trial and error for Craig – much like they were for Nirvana.
As romantic as this image is, we’ve got to make some progress. Thankfully, Craig did this. Slip into the 2000’s, get all the way to 2009 and you’ve got yourself a bonafide commercially producing winemaker.
Now, anyone who’s ever been to California knows that you can expect the run of the mill stuff. This doesn’t mean that your Merlot’s and Pinot Noirs are bad – they’re just not unique.
Craig’s mix-breed of Italian and Californian is, though. It’s the mongrel in him that’s pushed him to branch out into more unique vintages, including Barbera and Sangiovese.
However, let’s not stop at Craig’s Italian ancestry to get the whole story. In fact, he was told once as a fairly new up and comer to be true to his personal tastes instead of focusing on chasing the customer – and that’s precisely what he’s done.
Now, when you meet someone like Craig, there are a couple of things you’ll notice immediately. These are that he’s informal and friendly. He’s not here to upstage you with wine verbiage. He’s here to show you a good time, make you feel at home and share his most-loved wines with like-minded wine lovers.
When wine tasting at Colagrossi Wines, this is exactly what you get. A place where you get to be yourself, liberation to guzzle it if you like it, and an opportunity to learn something you didn’t know about Italian wine.
2014 Vino Rosso: there’s no beating around the bush here – Craig wants you to know what you’re tasting, and then you’ll taste it. This 2014 wine is a blend of three different vintages. We won’t bore you with the specifics, but just know there’s a bit of cab sav, some merlot and a dash of cab franc.
This easy drinking wine – his words, not ours – tastes of red and black berries. Enough said.
2016 Sangiovese: where do we even begin to describe – and celebrate – such a complex tasting wine? You’ve got a bit of dark cherry and bright acid, but you’ve also got some subtle tannins, along with a long finish.
Craig recommends that you drink this one while eating pizza.
One thing’s for sure – there’s a good reason why something as iconic as Nirvana came out of a garage. Perhaps Colagrossi Wines is the Nirvana of winemaking. Craig threw caution to the wind, put his head down and didn’t bring it back up again until he had some damn good wine.
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