Natalie Oliv­eros

Decanter - - CELEBRITY VINTNERS -

Natalie Skel­ton, born in Rochester, New York in 1967, found fame as Sa­vanna Sam­son, porn movie star. Im­prob­a­bly, she then par­layed her celebrity into be­com­ing a wine­maker. She had the plat­form and contacts to make her dream a re­al­ity. While danc­ing at the West Side strip club Scores, she con­trived to meet wealthy Venezue­lan wine mer­chant Daniel Oliv­eros, who had read about her wine­mak­ing am­bi­tion. They even­tu­ally mar­ried and Oliv­eros took her to Italy where his busi­ness was based. There he in­tro­duced her to Roberto Ci­presso, a leg­endary wine­maker, and the scene seemed to be set for Ci­presso to make the wine and Natalie to mar­ket it us­ing her sexy Sa­vanna im­age. It was Daniel’s idea that Roberto and Natalie would make good work­ing part­ners. In fact, she in­sisted on be­ing in­volved and in putting her own stamp on more than just the la­bel of Sa­vanna Sam­son Wines.

So, at La Fiorita win­ery in Mon­tal­cino, there de­vel­oped a mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial part­ner­ship be­tween the rugged and ex­pe­ri­enced Ci­presso and the more whim­si­cal new­comer Natalie, who had a pas­sion for un­likely blends. On her first day on the job she asked if she could ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent blends of lo­cal grapes, in­clud­ing in­ter­na­tional va­ri­eties, and make her own cu­vée. Soon Ci­presso found him­self tast­ing var­i­ous blends with her.

Along the way they re­jected the in­clu­sion of Mer­lot and Caber­net grapes as bor­ing, and in­stead chose an an­cient and out-of-fash­ion grape called Ce­sanese. Just as there had been those who doubted Natalie’s mo­tives in mar­ry­ing Daniel Oliv­eras, there were those who doubted that she could come up with a de­cent wine. In 2005, when her blend of 70% Ce­sanese, 20% San­giovese and 10% Mon­tepul­ciano won a 91-point rat­ing by Robert Parker, she was vin­di­cated. She called it Sogno Uno – Dream One.

Natalie Oliv­eros

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