Mario Andretti on his Napa Valley winery, the aptly named Andretti Winery

by TrevR on December 21, 2007

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Earlier this year we headed over to Andretti Winery on Big Ranch Road to give some of our neighbor’s wines a try. You’ll recall from our review, we thoroughly enjoyed the the 2006 Napa Valley Sangiovese ($33 per bottle) and the 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($38 per bottle).

Today, AutoWeek, yes AutoWeek, has a nice little story about how Mario Andretti came to be interested in wine and how he came to call Napa Valley home to his namesake winery. Here’s how Andretti explains getting into wine in the first place:

“I really started to pay attention to wine when I was in my 30s. I became more curious about wine through my travels. In South Africa in the early ’70s, we would always go to good restaurants, and I wanted to order French wine, but some of the people I was with said, ‘No, no, order the South African wines.’ You try them, and you see they make good wines, too. So in Argentina, I ordered Argentine wines, and so forth. I enjoy the ethnic specialties of food everywhere; you can never go wrong with those. It’s the same with the wines.”

One of the questions we heard repeatedly from visitors to the winery was ‘how involved is Mr. Andretti in this whole thing?’ He addressed just that in the article as well:

“This is something I care about enough that I want to be more involved,” he said. “Not that I profess to be what I’m not. I sometimes get introduced as a winemaker, and I say, ‘No, I’m not a winemaker, and thank God for that. I have a winemaker, Bob Pepi, and he’s the man.’

“But I do love it, and I learn things every day. I leave the daily operation to the experts. I position myself, as I did as a driver on the team. I didn’t know how to tear the car apart, change gears or pull an engine–the mechanics do that. I was the guy just to take advantage of what was given to me and try to appreciate it. I like the end result, but I like to know as much as I can about it. I’m interested. I’m curious. I’m involved. I’m part of all the strategy, the problems and solutions. I have a great partner in Joe Antonini.

“There were a few times when we should have thrown in the towel. But it’s paying off now, giving us a lot of satisfaction. A lot of satisfaction, that’s what it is.”

Gotta love the race car analogies…Overall, a fun read, check it out.

[techtags: Napa, Napa Valley, wine, winery Andretti Winery, Andretti Winery review, Andretti wine review]

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has written 722 posts on The Cork Board. He was born and aged in the Napa Valley and has a passion for wine, writing and social media, which led him to co-found this blog in early 2007. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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