Sunday, March 17, 2013

Four Days in Ohio – The Woman Who Sought Salvation in Sangiovese

When Natalie Oliveros was a young girl she thought she might become a nun. Her Calabrese grandmother might have liked that. But life has many turns in the road.

As she became a young woman she was drawn to ballet and the world of dance. She moved to New York City at an early age in pursuit of a dream.

Somewhere along the way her dream of dancing led to a dancing job, albeit not the one she probably dreamt of as a girl. And as she progressed in that realm, she found herself in front of a camera. Again, nothing would have prepared her or her family for the career she would have.

Natalie is a very smart woman. She made a lot of money doing things in front of the camera. The camera loves Natalie. But somewhere along the way, she decided to take another turn.

The reality that the camera loves beauty but loves youth even more must have dawned upon her. And being smart, and by this time, world wise, she took another leap – this time to a vineyard in Tuscany.

Having a good financial base and a stream of passive income, Natalie retired from her first career. She bought into a vineyard in Montalcino and business partnered with Roberto Cipresso to start her second career.

Look, there are plenty of articles about Natalie and her 1st career. I leave it to others to tell that story. I spent the better part of three days on the road with Italian winemakers, and Natalie was part of that crew. She showed up on time, opened her own bottles, stood there, standing for hours, pouring her wine, taking pictures with her admirers and talked about Sangiovese. There was no hint of diva, or entitlement. She worked her table. And she impressed me as a serious wine person.

Now all that said, she still has a way to go regarding wine knowledge. She can learn that. What cannot be learned as easily are street smarts and selling. Natalie can sell. No problem there.

Her sister said it best, “People are just drawn to Natalie, all kinds of people.” I saw that. She has a magnetism about her. I don’t see it as a cheesy, sleazy kind of attraction either. She looks you in the eye, shakes your hand and genuinely seems to be glad to be here. She asks you about your interests outside of wine, invites you to stay at the winery in Montalcino, does all the things someone does who wants their business to succeed. As I have said before, the wine world is made up of all sorts of characters; Natalie is one of them.

She has tried other grapes, but Sangiovese seems to be where she has arrived. In Montalcino, that better be. Oh yeah, there is Merlot and Cabernet (and Syrah) in those hills, but isn’t Sangiovese the grape everyone is making such a big deal about up there? So let’s say Natalie is finding her 2nd career, if not her salvation, in those hills of Sangiovese. Not quite the trail the little girl thought she'd take when she dreamt of being a nun or a ballerina. But not the first person to have traveled this road, either.

Our last night over dinner, she asked me where I was going to sit. “Can I sit next to you?” I’m sure it was slightly because I am a good buffer from the lurkers. I won’t hit on Natalie. I’m more interested in what’s going on in her head, why she arrived to this place. Sitting next to someone at a group dinner won’t necessarily get you a front row seat into their head, but I am a good listener. As a disciple of the decisive moment, I observe, not stare. It's amazing what one can see in 1/100th of a second.

Over dinner, someone asked me to say a few words to the group. I went into my channeling-the-wine-gods trance and made reference to the culture of wine in the last 8,000 years. But one thing for certain, this is a global family, this wine world, and I tell folks in it, Natalie included, ”welcome to your family in wine.”

Oh, you thought I was going to talk about her wines? What I think about them? For now, that is between Natalie and me. It’s a work in progress. But the prima materia is good. Very, very good.

So, we will see. Later this year, at the family reunion, in Tuscany.

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W


  1. What you can see at a shutter speed of 1/100th second, f/1.8 and ISO 400!

  2. Una bella donna...and I thought I wanted Anthony Bourdains job ! Ill take yours now grazie !

    M. Chappuis


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