Joseph Di Blasi is a blogger and natural wine importer now based in Poland. Joseph chats with us about the wine culture in both Poland and Norway (his former stomping grounds), the difficulties of importing natural wines, the controversy surrounding the word ‘natural’, as well as some of his favourite growers. Have a listen!
Read more about Joseph in his own words here and check out his blog, Vinosseur.
“I was raised in California by an Italian-born mother and an Italian-American father; I was always around exercise, organic food and home cooking. Nothing came out of a box or freezer. I was always around unmasked flavours and I have always had a good sense of taste. After an almost 10-year career in the financial services industry in Silicon Valley, I got burned out and decided to apply for my Italian passport and move to Italy.
I left California on July 31, 2002 headed for Italy to start fresh. “On the way” to Italy, I stopped in Bergen Norway to visit my brother who’d been living there about 4 months already. The city made an impression on me, so after about 5 months in Italy, I headed back to Bergen and looked for work. My first job to earn money was waiting tables in a very popular, touristy restaurant. I had spent most of my earnings back in California dining at the top restaurants and drinking great wines (mostly French & Italian, I didn’t like Californian wines), but had never worked on the other side of the table.
In 2004 I began to work at very influential (and important) wine bar in Bergen. After about 6 months, I moved into the management position and my colleagues and I quickly began focusing on small producers in lesser known regions. The wine list had about 250 titles, today it has about 1000.
In 2008 I completed my studies at the Norwegian “equivalent” of the WSET Advanced, created my wine blog Vinosseur, left the wine bar in December that year, and in January 2009 began to run the wine program for a small restaurant. I quickly began to focus exclusively on small producers who worked mostly “naturally”. Against much criticism from most of the Norwegian wine world, the wine program after a few years gained some steam and become the first, and most important natural wine program in Norway.
I moved to Krakow Poland in May of 2011, but continued to fly back and forth to Bergen twice a month to maintain the wine program. After 5 years of huge success and much positive media attention, the restaurant closed in December 2013.
In February 2014, two partners (a Polish and a Norwegian) and I, created Naturalisci (The Naturalists), an import/distribution company and a small wine shop focused on small producers who work traditionally, without additives.”