Meschinis juggle a family business

  • Article by: BILL WARD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 29, 2009 - 10:10 AM

Eugenio Meschini came up with a novel way to make ends meet for his fledgling winery. "He doesn't pay his sales staff," said his wife, Teresa, aka the sales staff.

Famiglia Meschini Premium

Note: This is part of a series of profiles on Twin Citians who have fulfilled the dream of starting their own wineries.

Eugenio Meschini came up with a novel way to make ends meet for his fledgling winery.

"He doesn't pay his sales staff," said his wife, Teresa, aka the sales staff, at least when she's not toiling at her full-time job: raising four children. "It's enough to get out of the house," she added with a smile over a glass of their delicious malbec.

Small wonder that the Minneapolis couple's winery is called Famiglia Meschini. They own the vineyard and the import/distribution company that disseminates the wines. Oh, and he helps out with the winemaking in Argentina, during breaks from his full-time job at Cargill.

"This is our passion, our hobby," said Eugenio.

It was just five years ago that the Meschinis bought 65 acres and planted vines in the Mendoza region of Eugenio's native country. The 2008 vintage is their first made with their own grapes, and they still sell about 95 percent of their crop.

The Meschinis head south of the equator every year to soak in a decidedly different culture. "There's donkeys in the street," Eugenio said, "and people have time to talk to you. There's a different concept of time there. Time goes slower because dinner is at 10:30."

Eugenio heads there again for wine work, but in the viticultural rather than the vinicultural end of the enterprise. "I don't have a say on vineyard management," he said. "I have more involvement on the style of the wines. What it is that we like and what it is that we think the U.S. market will like, that's my 5 cents."

And there's a lot to like with the wines. The $11 Premium line includes a juicy, vivacious sauvignon blanc, an unoaked chardonnay, a dark and layered malbec and a malbec-syrah blend (see Wine of the Week, below). There's also a Reserva line at $16 and a bold but elegant $33 Gran Reserva cabernet that could hold its own with Napa cabs at twice that price.

To keep prices manageable, the Meschinis, who met as students at St. Thomas University (she's from Rochester), started their own import/distribution operation, VinoAndes. They bring in four other South American wines, but the main purpose is to not have to pay middlemen.

"We can make it work so long as we export and import and distribute here," he said, adding that the economic downturn didn't hurt them as much "because we only have 100 cases of that top-tier wine."

If that hadn't worked out, though, the Meschinis had a backup plan.

"We said 'If we don't sell the wine, we will drink it ourselves,'" Teresa said with a chuckle.

Bill Ward • bill.ward@startribune.com Read Ward on Wine at startribune.com/blogs/wine.

  • related content

  • Ward on Wine blog: Hoppin' Jon

    Thursday October 29, 2009

  • Meek's wines are more wild than mild

    Wednesday August 5, 2009

    Excelsior resident Michael Meek started a vineyard in Washington in 2001. Eight years later, he's producing seriously tasty wines under the Meek Family Estate label.

  • Gustafson is building from (hilly) ground up

    Thursday May 28, 2009

    The owner of Twin Cities-based property-management firm DH Gustafson Co. decided to open a winery, and his plans for making pinot noir on the remote northern Sonoma coast were stymied,...

  • Kitchak fulfilling his dream in Napa

    Wednesday May 13, 2009

    Peter Kitchak laughs heartily when he hears the old line about the best way to make a small fortune in the wine world: Start with a large fortune.

  • WINE OF THE WEEK

    FAMIGLIA MESCHINI PREMIUM MENDOZA MALBEC-SYRAH 2008

    The experience: This 50-50 blend delivers a massive nose of wild herbs and dark fruit. It starts out jammy before the acidity and tannins kick in for a vivid finish. There's surprising depth for such an inexpensive red.

    The setting: Roasted anything, braised anything, stew with anything and robust soups are among the potential pairings.

    The back story: Blending the two grapes, which were once primarily associated with southern France (malbec in Cahors and Bordeaux, syrah in the Rhone) was Eugenio Meschini's idea. "He's the creative one," wife Teresa says.

    The tab: $11, available at South Lyndale, Ken & Norm's, Sinful Wine & Spirits (Bloomington), Solo Vino and Pairings.

    BILL WARD
  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which top 2014 restaurant do you most want to try?

Weekly Question
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close