AP NEWS

Florence festival will feature fine wines from California

April 3, 2019

FLORENCE, S.C. – Fine wines from Laetitia Winery from California’s Central Coast will be featured on the final night of the three-day second annual Florence Wine and Food Festival.

The festival will be held April 11-13 in downtown Florence.

The finale is the Final Pour, which will start at 6:30 p.m. on April 13 on the grounds of the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center.

Wines from Laetitia Winery will be paired with a five-course, locally sourced feast prepared by award-winning chefs.

This winery is passionate about producing premium estate wines that showcase the distinctive qualities of the Arroyo Grande Valley. Located in southern San Luis Obispo County, the coastal property overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

The Laetitia Estate Vineyards were first planted to grapes in 1982 when French viticulturists found ideal growing conditions in the Arroyo Grande Valley for producing wines of similar character to those of their homeland in Epernay, France.

Nineteen years later, the property was acquired by Selim Zilkha, founder of a successful wind power development company and champion of environmental sustainability. Between his qualifications in renewable energy solutions and his passion for the pleasures of the harvest, Selim has developed Laetitia into the home of some of California’s highest quality, sustainably produced wines.

Lino Bozzano, the vice president of vineyard operations, began fulfilling that vision of sustainability by farming the vines according to the winemakers’ styles, the disposition of the varieties and their particular growing conditions.

“There is tremendous diversity in this small area, from the soils to the meso-climates,” said Bozzano, a third-generation California farmer and graduate of Cal Poly’s Crop Science program. “It’s the perfect venue for understanding what site means to the wines.”

His fastidious attention to the estate’s 600-plus acres of vines and the unity of purpose he shares with winemakers Eric Hickey and Dave Hickey bring clarity, focus and grace to each bottle of Laetitia wine.

A deep and abiding respect for Laetitia’s estate-grown fruit is the mark of Eric Hickey’s winemaking. Beginning his hands-on training in the cellar at the age of 16, Eric has lived and breathed Laetitia all the way to the top, where he is now the head winemaker and the winery’s president.

“I keep it simple,” he said, “and I stay eye-to-eye with Lino, because the interplay between us is what determines the wines’ quality. Everything done in the cellar starts with what we do out in the vineyard.”

Dave Hickey, Laetitia’s sparkling winemaker and vice president of production, is a self-described student of the vines.

“The vineyards were planted in 1982, and I came on in 1985,” he said. “Working with the same fruit for so long translates into a lot of knowledge.”

Trained in Méthode Champenoise winemaking by French traditionalists, Dave uses the winery’s Coquard grape presses (the only two in North America and the gold standard for winemaking in Champagne) as the foundation for sparkling wines that have attracted devotees to the Laetitia Estate for decades.

Tickets for the Final Pour are on sale in advance only for $125 each. The feast will begin with a wine reception adjacent to a tented dining area, and it will conclude with the final pour paired with a dessert created by celebrity chef Heidi Vukov, the 2018 South Carolina Chef Ambassador. All chefs and sommeliers will be present to make observations and visit with guests.

The Wine and Food Festival will benefit Help 4 Kids Florence.

This weekend to savor will feature two other events:

>> Meat and Meander, 6 to 8 p.m. April 11, $85. This event at the Waters Building is all about the meat. It will include cooking demonstrations and tastings, including sides and desserts paired with wines from the Kysela Pere et Fils Ltd. and craft beers from Local Motive and Seminar Brewing.

>> Sip and Savor, 6 to 9 p.m. April 12, $50. This event in downtown Florence along Dargan and Evans streets will feature wine and beer tastings and hors d’oeuvres. Participants can stroll to and through many boutiques. There will be an option for wine purchase that evening with pick up from the Micky Finn’s on Pamplico Highway beginning the day after the event.