Fratelli Perata Winery

Carol has finally decided to step back from responsibilities in the tasting room and has retired (mostly). While you may see her at special  events, she is leaving the pouring to her daughters, Cathy and Joanne.

Spring, 2020

What makes wine Italian style?

Our wines are made by Italians-Americans, Gino is 100% Italian heritage, and many of our varietals originated
in Italy, which makes them Italian, However, it is possible to have a rather “Californian” Sangiovese or Merlot
versus an Italian style Sangiovese or Merlot.

So let’s delve a little under the surface, or grape skin, to really understand how Italian style is different.
Italian wines tend toward the slightly acidic side, mainly because this makes the wine well suited to pairing with
food. And we all know, in Italy, wine and food are synonymous. The wines also tend to be bold in flavor
intensity and lean heavily into fruit flavors and aromas. They also have a propensity towards a touch of terroir
or “land:” where you can smell and taste the earth in which the grapes were grown.

Californian wines on the other hand tend to be big and bold with lots of fruit but very low acidity. This makes
them great for just drinking but much harder to pair with food. A wine needs a higher acidity to stand up to rich
dishes and without it the wine is simply overpowered and lost.

So how does one go about making a wine with higher acidity? It starts with the climate. Italy boasts one of the
best climates on Earth for grape growing. In California you must search far and wide for a climate that is
comparable. That’s why Gino and Carol landed here in Paso Robles: the climate here is fairly similar to Italy’s
climate. The daytime temperatures are high to ripen the grapes and develop good flavors and use up some of
the acids in the berries. But in the evening the coastal air rolls in and cools the grapes down to give them a
break so the grapes don’t use up too much acid, which would make the wines turn out flat.

The grapes are dry farmed to create a higher skin to juice ratio. This adds to the development of flavor, color
and tannin in the wines, since that’s all in the skins. Dry farming results in lower yields, but better grapes. If
grape vines are given all their required nutrients, they tend to focus on development of vegetal (leaf) growth
instead of fruit growth. So give the grapes a harsh environment where nutrients are less readily available and
then less focus is placed on their canopy and more is focused on the berries, which results in more flavorful

Beyond the vineyard there are winemaking influences that make a wine Italian style. Fermentation time, “punch
down” times, types of yeasts, and barrel aging all are factors that influence an Italian style wine. The type of
oak, the toast of the oak, and the length of time that the wines are in the oak also influence the wine’s style. All
of these factors affect the style of the wine that end up in your glass. If done the Italian way, you are left with an
Italian style wine. This is where winemaking becomes more art than science. While we could tell you all of what
we do in the winery, we’ll leave that as our trade secret. Just remember that every decision we make is based
on wanting to reflect Gino’s heritage, true Italian style.


The Perata Family