USA, Nevada (Reno)
hosted by Mike Zunini

Introduction

I am 41 years old, married and have 3 children. I was born and raised in Reno, coming from strong family roots (we still have family dinner at my mother's house every Sunday). I am the Operations Manager for a chain of convenience stores in Northern Nevada. My hobbies include golf, fly fishing, and of course, wine.

My wine interests

I was weaned on wine at an early age, partly do to my Italian heritage and partly to the thinking of my parents - that if wine appeared to be part of the meal, then their children wouldn't perceive it as something to get "ubriaco" on. So as kids, our place settings at the dinner table always included a little glass of wine with a big chunk of ice in it. I've enjoyed wine for a long time, but it really wasn't until about 4 years ago that I got interested in wine as a hobby.

Reno rests in Washoe Valley nestled against the eastern foothills of the Sierras. We are 40 minutes drive from world famous Lake Tahoe. The closest vineyards are "over the hill" to Zinfandel country - Eldorado County, California. Although, winegrower Rick Halbardier of Tahoe Ridge Vineyards and Winery in Minden, Nevada is currently experimenting with different varietals to see which might best adapt to our climate. The famous Napa Valley is only a short 3 hours drive away.

As you might expect, most of my cellar is made up of mostly California wines. They are easily accessable and for the most part somewhat affordable. Also, I lean mainly toward reds. I prefer Cabernet, Zinfandel and Sangiovese more than Merlot and Pinot Noir. There is very little white in my cellar. I am bored with Chardonay and will choose a good Semillion if given the choice. French, Italian and Australian are represented also, but in small amounts. I have had little exposure to ports and sherries and have not quite acquired their tastes yet. Below are three of my favorites Californians:

Caymus Vineyards in Napa Valley. It has been argued that Caymus is best Cabernet Sauvignon pruducer in California and some will argue in the world. I might go that far but I truly enjoy their Cabernets. Recently, after a 26 hour delivery, I celebrated the birth of my new baby girl with a Cabernet from Caymus.

Ferrari-Carano Winery in Sonoma County, is best known for their Chardonays, but I prefer their red blends instead - especially their Siena (Cabernet, Sangiovese, Merlot, and Malbec). I have a special attachment to the winery, I grew up with the Carano family in Reno. They not only own the winery, but they also own the Eldorado Hotel Casino and the Silver Legacy Hotel Casino in Reno. They have built a beautiful Italian style villa at the winery. It is a must see and taste.

St. Francis Winery in Sonoma County is one of my new up and coming favorites. Their marks for Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet are in the good range. I like them better than that. I love the intense fruit of their wines.

My Wine Cellar

Like a lot of people without wine cellars, the wine I collected was stored in a dark closet in the coolest room in the house. About 2 years ago, with the desire to try and produce some decent homemade wine and my "wine closet" busting at the seams, I decided to build a wine cellar.

First, I read the book "How and Why To Build a Wine Cellar" by Richard M. Gold. It was very good and it gave me some good ideas on how to design my cellar. One of the first things a person needs to decide when building a cellar is how much wine do you intend to store. Using the guidelines in Gold's book, I figured that a cellar 7 feet long by 6 feet wide by 7 feet deep would house a little over 1000 bottles.

The digging of the cellar was painstaking work. I was fortunate enough to have an outside crawl space that enabled me to tote the dirt from underneath the house. I worked on the excavation on weekends and an occasional night after work. As the dirt piled up on the side of the house, my wife teasingly said that neighbors were going to think that I was burying people under the house. Friends thought I was crazy.

Crazy as a fox, as they say. The resulting cellar is my pride and joy. The cellar is framed, insulated, has a gravel floor, and a sump pump for insurance. It is accessed down a ladder through a trapdoor in my den. The temperature and humidity stand naturally at 55-60 degrees and 70-75 percent.

Contact Details

e-mailMzunini@aol.com
Phone(702) 746-1181