We've all heard, "Do what you love and the money will follow." Well, the De Santis family took the words to heart and plunged into the wine import business. Today, Michelle and her father, Antonio, own and operate De Santis Selection Imports, a boutique importer focusing on artisanal wineries.
"We choose wines that are typical of the region they represent," Michelle says. Back in 2009 she convinced her father they needed to go into business together and, after a family visit to Italy, Antonio De Santis, a long-time Shell executive, agreed. He put his corporate suit aside and embarked on a new career path that would make any oenophile jealous.
Although neither of them has any formal training in wines, Michelle, who spent several years working for Blue Star Jets before the economy took its toll on such decadence, tells us, "We've completely immersed ourselves. We travel to Italy to meet with the growers and producers and learn from the source what makes the wine special".
And it's paid off. With her father running the operation in Texas, Michelle focuses on South Florida, traveling up and down 95 meeting with restaurant owners, setting up tasting dinners with chefs and doing lots of samplings. On any given day this Italian bella donna is wooing her way onto restaurant menus.
The goal is to have their portfolio of wines represented at every Italian restaurant from Palm Beach to Key West. Be it a white, like the intense, yet well-balanced Numeridivini Falanghina or the spicy and complex red Ampeleia Kepos, the selection is as vast as our restaurant choices.
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"There are so many Italian restaurants in South Florida it's hard to know where to start," she says with the exuberance of a teenager in love. But with restaurants like De Luca, Grazie Italian Cuisine, and Tagliatelle part of the roster, this father-daughter duo can add industrious wine connoisseurs to their resume. Although we doubt they'll need a resume after this....
De Santis Imports and De Luca will be hosting a Twilight Wine Tasting on Thursday, June 30. For this and more De Santis events visit their Facebook page.