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Etto Pastificio & Giornata Wines, Paso Robles

Jun 30, 2019 11:00AM ● By Melissa Mendonca

That's Italian!

July 2019
Story by Melissa Mendonca
Photos courtesy of Etto Pastificio & Giornata Wines

WHEN LIFE IN A San Francisco accounting office cubicle didn’t provide fulfillment, Brian Terrizzi headed to the door of a nearby Napa Valley winemaker for a harvest job. “I started two weeks later at the bottom: cleaning, sorting grapes. Nothing glamorous,” he says. But much to love.

“Then I went to Italy,” he adds. “My heritage is Italian. I grew up eating Italian food. I was always curious why there weren’t Italian wines grown in California.” With an eye on returning to the Napa Valley for the next harvest, Terrizzi eventually developed a bigger goal.

“I came back and went to Fresno State to study wine,” he says. He met a serious group of students, including one focused on viticulture – Stephanie, who would become his wife. “She worked in Sonoma and Napa,” he says. “Like me, she wanted to get a degree. I had this dream to make wine of Italian grape varieties.”

Brian and Stephanie pooled their talents and developed their first vintage in 2005. “We started with one barrel, which is as small as you can start,” says Brian. “Now we have a full-on winery. But it’s always been step by step.”

Giornata Wines are grown and featured at a Tin City wine cellar in Paso Robles but are sold around the globe. “To me the biggest achievement in wine is to be able to sell it. And we sell it at some of the best restaurants in the world,” says Brian. Wine grapes are sourced from the couple’s small vineyard in the area, as well as from several private vineyards Stephanie manages. “Giornata” is derived from the Italian art term that means “a day’s work” and reflects the dedicated and meaningful way the Terrizzis spend their time.

A year ago, the couple expanded their business to include Etto Pasta, sourced from Western-grown, organic durum semolina. The idea stemmed from the conversations the couple found themselves continually having with customers at their appointment-only tasting room. “We ended up talking about food and Italian food and what makes sense with the wines we’re making,” says Brian. The conversations made perfect sense, he says, because in an Italian context, “Wine and food are completely interrelated. Wine and food are pretty much synonymous.”

Again, Brian went back to Italy. “That’s what drives me – understanding how the Italians make pasta,” he says. “I’ve been to Italy about four times in the last two years. I’ve visited some small artisanal pasta factories there. We use very traditional pasta equipment.”

As influential as the frequent visits to Italy was Brian’s employment at Sam’s Italian Deli in Fresno, where he worked full-time while a student at Fresno State. “I really model what I’m doing after Sam’s,” he says with reverence. “They’re an old-school Italian deli. I’m the modern version of that.”

Etto pasta is sold fresh at the Tin City location and served in about 20 restaurants, including a few in the Valley. “Every week we make different fresh ravioli,” says Brian, noting that it is only available at the Tin City location. It is available dried at Valley locations including The Market in Fresno, Sierra Nut House, Sam’s Italian Deli & Market, Trelio Restaurant in Clovis and Luigi’s in Bakersfield. 

“In a year, we’ve grown beyond what I’ve ever thought,” says Brian. “The beauty of what we’re doing, and the beauty of pasta, is that it’s a single-ingredient food. It’s not only delicious, it’s good for you. It’s made fresh every day.” An etto is a unit of measurement in Italian, indicating the perfect portion of pasta for an individual.

Etto provides pasta to a few schools in the Paso Robles area, which brings great pride to the Terrizzis. “Almost every kid on the planet likes pasta,” Brian says with a laugh. “It feels great to feed people food that we know is delicious and very healthy. It’s low-glycemic the
way we make it. It’s a complex, slow-breakdown carbohydrate. It’s something that’s incredibly ancient but it’s become a staple of the human diet.”

Of the long hours, expense and logistics of running two busy and successful businesses, Brian laughs and says that he and Stephanie are “kind of all in. If you want to really make it, you have to be really dedicated.” Life away from the cubicle has been what he hoped it would be, however. “It just seems that I was meant to pursue this,” he says. •

Etto Pastificio & Giornata Wines

Located in the Tin City Warehouse District:

3070 Limestone Way, Paso Robles

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