La Maliosa in California

2024, for me and La Maliosa, is the year of “great journeys” to discover different continents, accompanying our natural wines and extra virgin olive oils with the help of our distributors.

I returned to California for the first time in 38 years without setting specific goals or expectations, but with the somewhat fatalistic attitude of letting myself be carried by the “flow”. Indeed, there was plenty of flow in an intense journey full of unexpected encounters that made it truly interesting from both a professional and human perspective.

We traveled the state from Sonoma, through San Francisco, Carmel, Ventura, Manhattan Beach, Altadena, Santa Monica, to Culver City, Los Angeles. Beyond the numerous tasting meetings with customers organized by our importer Sheila of Verovino, I want to highlight some significant stops:

San Francisco, WINEFARE. A small but highly curated nonprofit fair dedicated exclusively to women producers of natural wines, organized by Pamela Busch. he event was preceded by a panel on regenerative agriculture, in which I had the pleasure of participating as a speaker, the only European alongside three other American professionals in the wine industry. It was a great opportunity for exchange on various production practices.

Sonoma, here, in an incredible “small town USA” atmosphere, I met some producers and visited a winery practicing regenerative agriculture. It was very instructive to understand the trends of this part of the world that our wines must contend with.

Carmel, a Maliosa was the special guest at the seminar dedicated to us organized by the Carmel Wine School on the occasion of its inauguration. Here, I had the opportunity to share our company story with enthusiasts and sommeliers.

Los Angeles, at Epicurus Gourmet, wholesaler stocked with every Italian foodie goodness you can think of, I had the more unique than rare opportunity to do a seminar on evo oil and how it is produced and tasted. Truly a beautiful location to present and sell our fine extra virgin oils, in the company of super-selected brands. An excellent result achieved by our importer Sheila that we are very happy about.

Ventura, besides being the base of operations for our importer Verovino, is also the undisputed realm of the wineblogger and writer Gwendolyn Alley, a volcano of enthusiasm and energy with whom we spent beautiful moments together, exchanging ideas about natural wines. Fun fact: in Ventura, the famous sustainable sportswear company Patagonia was founded, and it’s still possible to visit the original store where it all began.

Altadena, Maison de la Muse. A sunset dinner event organized by the owners of the eponymous wine club for enthusiasts and sommeliers in a magical atmosphere where La Maliosa wines and oils took center stage.

Santa Monica, La Maliosa Tasting Event at Ester’s Wine Shop and Bar a great and beautiful reference point for natural wines in Santa Monica. A truly cutting-edge venue in both ambiance and wine selection, with a great focus not only on the wines and producers but especially on their methods of cultivation. It’s a great satisfaction to see ourselves so well represented and positioned (thanks Sheila!).

Culver City, Culver City, during the final meeting before departure, I was invited to present our story, project, and the “Metodo Corino” to the Wine Journalists of Los Angeles association. The level of wine knowledge among the members was truly high; at the same time, I found a great willingness to listen and an eagerness to understand unconventional approaches like ours. I established relationships that are already proving to be lasting well beyond the few hours spent together.

A couple of weeks after my return and after letting memories and impressions settle, I’d like to share some reflections following this significant experience.

The attitude towards wine and cultivation methods in California is decidedly different. Is it surprising? In part, yes, and for these more or less favorable reasons:

  • There is great open-mindedness and consequently a willingness to listen attentively. There are no preconceptions about the right or wrong ways to do things, and there are no overarching structures on how wine “should be.” Indeed, contrary to what I sometimes hear in my region, there, things have not “always been done this way.” This opens up to innovation and experimentation, and people are predisposed to accept differences.
  • There is enormous interest and respect for female-led business and viticulture. Women power!
  • There is a lot of interest in natural wine, which seems to be benefiting from a small boom. But there’s a BUT: the interpretation of the natural wine world is different. In fact, in both the producer’s and consumer’s minds, the vineyard and the wine can be completely separate from each other.
  • The scale is significantly larger, with no different criteria required or observed for natural wines.

In a sense, it’s still largely an open field. For La Maliosa, which doesn’t base its raison d’être on historical and generational foundations, this is an opportunity, provided we convey the right message that highlights our uniqueness compared to their idea of viticulture and sustainability, strongly marked by the Californian approach: vast extensions, mechanization, “random” grape varieties. The combination of femininity and natural wines is certainly winning and attracts attention and interest, provided we explain well what we mean by natural, which may be different from what they understand: never take anything for granted!

The opportunity lies in our approach to “total sustainability,” while the challenge lies in finding the right key to communicate it. This requires a strong alliance with the local distributor who must deeply understand us. I believe this journey has created the conditions to strengthen this crucial aspect.

It was a beautiful and educational journey, extremely useful for both me and La Maliosa. I hope we can repeat it soon.

For anyone wishing to purchase our natural wines and extra virgin olive oils in the USA, you can contact VEROVINO, run by Sheila Donohue, whom I thank for organizing this intense and wonderful trip. By the way, they have produced a short but very well-made video that you can watch HERE, which I would rename LA MALIOSA FOR DUMMIES.

A huge thank you to everyone for your warmth and kindness! We’ll be back soon!

You can find all the photos and stops of our journey on Facebook.

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