This past winter I had the opportunity to meet Sheila Donohue with Vero. This was on a Zoom Chat about Italian Wines so, as all 2020 meetings, it was virtual. December was a busy, busy time, so we promised to get back in touch and set up a time to get to know each other in the new year.
We often hear about wonderful small wineries. Many of these, we would never hear about, were it not for importers, like Sheila, who bring their wines to the people. So today, I want to tell you a bit about Sheila.
Here she is, a little more than 3 years into the venture. The pandemic has of course been hard. She is located in Emilia Romagna in the North of Italy, where the virus has hit hardest. Her business is located in Ventura, California. Another hard-hit region.
In addition, restaurants are closed or running on much smaller schedules, and wine shops…wine shops are a place where people come and ask questions and hear the stories behind the wines. This is where you sell small production wines. With COVID-19 people now order online or email an order to the shop. The opportunity for storytelling and new discoveries has been greatly impacted.
None-the-less, Sheila perseveres. For me, as a wine writer, she is representing all those wines that I love so much! Small producers with great stories. Many are growing in the style that their great-grandparents grew in, without pesticides or other technologies. She mentioned a woman winemaker in Fruili who is a 2nd generation female winemaker at her family vineyard.
She is working hard to get their stories out there, how could I pass up an opportunity to share her story.
Vero – “Real”
Vero means “real” in Italian and that is what inspires Sheila, it’s that authenticity that we all crave. On her site she says:
‘We believe that sourcing genuine products is important for our health and our planet because when you find the good stuff you become the good stuff.”
Beyond the people, it is their drive to work sustainably in harmony with the planet.
“We search for products that are not just good but that are right; right for our hearts and our mind.”
These are small producers, some of whom are re-introducing forgotten varieties, like Braschi who is making Famoso, a variety that all but disappeared. There is Erbaluce from Piemonte, Natural wines from Maremma, Sparkling wines from Romagna…
She also has producers in California, in Ventura where her business is located, and has recently added producers in Spain from La Mancha with vineyards up to 2,500 feet above sea level.
Virtual Events with Vero
Sheila regularly does virtual events. She has one coming up on March 7th to celebrate Women’s History Month.
Her “Women in Wine VeroTalk Reunion” will bring together 4 women winemakers to talk about the year of COVID-19, how it changed their lives and businesses and how they look at the future.
Chatting and sharing their wines with us will be Raffaella Merlin of Bugno Martino in Mantua, Italy, Antonella Manuli of La Maliosa based in Maremma Tuscany Italy, Patti Mitchell of Ojai Pacific View in Ojai, California, and Hilde Petrussa of Vigna Petrussa based in Friuli, Italy along with her daughter Francesca Mecchia.
She does have a tasting collection, so you can sip along with the winemakers, available on her site. Visit the event page for details.
She also does some IG Live events and will be live from her husband’s bakery in Bologna with a demonstration of pasta making and a tasting of pinoletto frizzante from Tomisa! Find them at @VeroVinoGusto on InstaGram and join them on Saturday February 27th at 10 am Pacific time for this adventure!
I look forward to exploring the wines she brings in and sharing more with you.
In the meantime, head to her website at VeroVinoGusto to find these wines and hear some of the stories of the people who made them. Plus information on her virtual tastings and events!
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.