Paul Castronovo is a talker. That's probably a given, considering he's made his living as a radio personality, known throughout South Florida as half of the "The Paul and Young Ron Morning Show." But this famous voice also loves to chat wine and food. His wine label, Castronovo Vineyards, is a favorite topic of conversation, particularly as since his experience as a purveyor of Italian wine has led to an opportunity to travel throughout Italy and interact with wine experts from around the world.
When Clean Plate Charlie reached Castronovo on Wednesday afternoon, he had just finished up talking travel details with American Express. He's currently putting the finishing touches on plans for his annual pilgrimage to Italy to check in with the vineyard and winery where he is a partner. He'll head out on June 8 with friends and family -- ten people in all --
and spend time in Rome, Sicily, and Abruzzo, where the vineyard is
"What a great excuse to go to Italy," he said.
Castronovo Vineyards has enjoyed increased distribution of its varietal Montepulciano d'Abruzzo since its 2010 launch in the U.S. (Learn how Castronovo's connection with an Italian winery came to pass in this 2010 story from Clean Plate Charlie.)
The wine currently is available in many restaurants and specialty shops throughout South Florida and beginning April 1, Castronovo said the label will be available in all Florida Publix stores for easier access. Outside of Florida, the wine is available in Maine and Phoenix, Arizona, in addition to being served at all three Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse and Bars in the Chicago area.
"For me to be successful (at this) I need to be a national brand," Castronovo said of the need to expand in and beyond the Florida market where his name recognition has opened many doors for him.
Part of that "brand" extension is the addition of a white wine: a Pecorino that should be arriving in Florida in two to three weeks and will launch this year.
"We were ready to go (a while ago) but the Italian government are sticklers on the labels and there was one letter off," he said.
The Pecorino grape is unique to the Abruzzo region of Italy, where the Castronovo vineyard is located. Pecorino -- not to be confused with the Italian cheese of the same name -- is a popular varietal in Italy but one that is not as common in the U.S.: "You don't see a lot of it (here)."
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Castronovo, an avid boater who enjoys spending time outside, was looking for a wine that would be easier to drink during Florida's spring and summer months. "There are so many chardonnays over here. I wanted something unique," he said. "(The Pecorino) is the perfect Florida, seafood wine."
He said he would like to introduce a rose -- another easy-drinking variety -- to his American wine label, but that step will take some time.