Searching around the wine section of Deluxe Market in Aptos, I came across a Villa dei Sogni Vino Rosso. Most wines at Deluxe have helpful information for each bottle, and a tag on the Vino Rosso informed that it was produced by local couple Jack and Lori Burkett, along with Lori’s brother and sister-in-law Garth and Barbara Shirreffs.
A blend of 45% Sangiovese, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Zinfandel, their Vino Rosso 2013 ($26) is a rich mouthful of these three red varietals. Estate-grown in the vineyard of the Burkett and Shirreffs families, the wine has notes of Sangiovese’s plush cherry fruit, and distinctive black currant, tobacco, coffee, and mint notes from the Cab. “The blend is subtly different, depending on the prominent grape that is harvested each year,” Lori Burkett says. Grapes are tended to and harvested by family and friends, and fruit is turned into wine with the help of Midnight Cellars in Paso Robles.
Family members of the Burketts planted the vineyard in 2001 on a sunny patch of land near Lake Nacimiento, and their first harvest was in 2003. But soon after, Lori’s husband Jack was diagnosed with a brain tumor and lost the ability to speak or walk. “He was given one year to live, but is still going strong after 18 years,” says Lori. “He has kept a positive spirit.” Initially, Jack went from being wheelchair-bound, hardly able to move, to walking with a brace on his leg. Lori credits the Cabrillo College Adaptive PE and Stroke and Disability Center with keeping Jack healthy. The Burketts now give 10% of wine sales to Cabrillo in gratitude. Named Villa dei Sogni, which means “house of dreams” in Italian, this robust Vino Rosso 2013 pairs well with any hearty meal.
“This has been a dream come true,” says Lori. “With the grace of God, the love and support of our family, church family and friends, Jack is thriving and enjoying life. He beat the odds.”
Villa dei Sogni Vino Rosso is carried at Café Sparrow, Café Cruz and East End Gastropub.