Food & Drink

August 26, 2012

Interview with vintner Cynthia Cosco of Passaggio Wines

Spotlight, credit: google images

Today’s spotlight post is all about living your dream. Cynthia Cosco founder, owner and winemaker at Passaggio Wines has epitomized the phrase “dreams really do come true”.  After 15 years of a law enforcement career in Virginia, Cynthia decided to call it quits and move west to explore her fervent love for winemaking. Eight years later armed with four proprietary wines, a hands-on, experiential resume that would rival all dream seekers and the self-satisfaction of living your dream; Cynthia Cosco tells us how it all happened as this week’s Vintner in the Spotlight.

Cynthia Cosco, Passaggio Wines

South Florida Food andWine.com: For those who have not heard of Passaggio wines, tell us a bit about your wine and how you got started.
Cynthia Cosco: I left a 15-year law enforcement career in Virginia to pursue my passion of winemaking.  I moved to CA in 2004 and launched Passaggio Wines in 2007.   My wines are all made to drink with food.  My passion is to bring wonderful friends, great food, and awesome wines together.

South Florida Food and Wine: Where does the name Passaggio come from and what does it mean?
Cynthia Cosco: Passaggio means “passage way” in Italian.  It’s a tribute to my family who moved here from Italy in the early 1900’s.

South Florida Food andWine.com: If you had to classify your wine, what type is it? And why did you choose this classification?
Cynthia Cosco: That’s a very good question.  I have had a lot people wanting me to raise the prices on my wines.  I try to keep the prices on my wines so that it’s accessible to everyone.  It would be nice to be noted as a cult wine.  When I sold out of the Passaggio Rosé last year people were asking for it and willing to pay a higher price.  Wish I had had more of it…LOL

South Florida Food andWine.com: Tell us about the different wines within the Passaggio portfolio,
Cynthia Cosco: There are 4 different wines in the Passaggio portfolio.  The flagship wine is the Unoaked Chardonnay. This wine is made in all stainless steel with no malo-lactic conversion.  It is very clean and crisp with lots of complexity. The next wine is the Pinot Grigio.  This wine is also made in all stainless with no ML conversion.  It very fruit forward and made to go well with food.  The Passaggio Rosé is what I call my “fun wine.” The label Rose Colored Glasses is a different label than the Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio.  This is a dry Rosé yet very fruit forward with balanced acidity.  It’s great with food or just sipping on the deck with friends and family.  My new adventure in 2011 was making a Pinot Noir.  I teamed up with Robin White who helped source these great grapes.  The Pinot Noir is a fruit forward Pinot with great complexity.  I think it’s going to be a stellar wine – wait until you see the label for this wine!  It will be released sometime in November.

South Florida Food andWine.com: What is your most memorable wine moment to date?
Cynthia Cosco: There are so many moments, but when I think back to the start of this journey, it would have to be my very first harvest. It was with Chateau St Jean in 2004.  I can still remember the smells, the sites, and tasting the fruit from when it was harvested through its fermentation process.  What an awesome memory to have.  Harvest has become the most exciting time of year for me.

South Florida Food andWine.com: What is the most challenging thing about being a vintner/entrepreneur?
Cynthia Cosco: The most challenging thing for me is marketing and selling.  I have embraced social media for marketing and along the way have met some of the most wonderful people.  Selling the wines is also very difficult for me.  I love to give wine away…LOL

South Florida Food andWine.com: Where can your wines be purchased?
Cynthia Cosco: Right now my wines can be purchased at “Graces Table”, a wonderful restaurant in downtown Napa.  You can find them in “Bacchus Wines Made Simple” and “Darren’s Restaurant” in Manhatten Beach, CA,  “Uncorked Hermosa” in Hermosa Beach, CA, “Wine Seller” in Apple Valley, CA,   “Il Vecchio Restaurant” in Pacific Grove, CA, “Wine Styles” in Torrance, CA . They are also distributed in Kentucky.  You will be able to taste and purchase them soon in the DogPatch tasting room in San Francsico and on the new Passaggio Website.

South Florida Food andWine.com: Who is the one person you would love to share a bottle of your wine with and why?
Cynthia Cosco: wow…it’s hard to choose only one person.  I love to be surrounded by my closest friends and family to share wine with.  They are the ones who have held me up along this journey and encouraged me to pursue my dreams.

South Florida Food andWine.com: It’s your last day on earth, what would your quaff and meal be?
Cynthia Cosco: My last meal would have to be my Aunt Mary’s homemade rigatoni with a glass of Italian Barolo.

South Florida Food andWine.com: What was the last restaurant you ate at and did you order your wine?
Cynthia Cosco: As a matter of fact I met a dear friend for lunch at Graces Table in downtown Napa and we ordered the Passaggio Rose Colored Glasses with our fish tacos.

South Florida Food andWine.com: Other than your own wine, what is your quaff of choice?
Cynthia Cosco: There are so many…I love searching for those boutique wines that are hard to find. There are so many out there that people just do not know about.   I live in an area of the country where I am blessed to be able to find them.   My favorite wines to drink are Pinot Noir and Unoaked Chardonnays.  If you get a chance check out Mer Soleil Unoaked Chardonnay.

Visit Passaggio Wines

Love the South Florida food scene? Check out our newly published book (Globe Pequot Press, $14.95), Food Lovers’ Guide to Miami & Fort Lauderdale

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Girl Power, Interviews with Female Chefs, Vintners and Entrepreneurs

2011 Spotlight Interviews

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