Exclusive Interview with Mario Andretti

Mario & Me

On the morning of Thursday, June 18th I gladly made my way across town to the Toronto Hunt Golf Club to meet Mario Andretti, one of the most famous race car drivers ever!

Courtesy of Peter Mielzynski Agencies Ltd. (PMA) Media, VIPs and the Toronto Hunt Club's Wine Club, were invited to meet Mario Andretti who was in town promoting his winery: Andretti Winery. Unfortunately Ange was not able to make it - she really wanted to be there - but I was glad to go on behalf of iYellow. Fortunately I was able to get her a signed bottle of Mario's wine and he was kind enough to pass along his verbal greeting to Ange.

The Toronto Hunt Club was a beautiful setting for the event with its rich green foliage and air of the finer things in life; the only problem was that it was cloudy and rainy that day.

The club house was nicely decorated for the occassion, and fittingly, there were beautiful cars arranged at the front (Jaguar, Maserrati) and a Indy car at the back where the lunch was to take place.

I was given the opportunity for a one-on-one interview with Mario and glad to take it. Global TV was also there for the occasion, but aside from that, he was mostly taking pictures with fans and staff before lunch.

While I didn't know much about Mario before the interview, I was one of those people who certainly knew his name. On the racing front, according to wikipedia, "Andretti had 109 career wins on major circuits...[and] In American popular culture, his name has become synonymous with speed..."

While I'm not a big racing fan, I am a wine fan. So I certainly knew of him because of our research on Celebrity Wines. Mario Andretti's winery is based in Napa Valley and he's been making wine for about 13 years.

I was able to sit down with Mario for 15 minutes and he was a very nice guy. Cool, calm and gentle, he reminded me of Donald Ziraldo, co-founder of N-O-T-L's Inniskillin winery. It must be the Italian blood!

Toronto (and Canada) is dear to Mario he told me, especially due to the Indy events and large Italian community.

He told me that wine is a "part of the good things in life" and that his involvement with his winery is not "superficial," like some celebrities.

Andretti, like many in the wine industry, thinks the Celebrity wine trend is "great for the wine industry" because it adds to the "widespread enjoyment of wine."

Andretti lives in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, but has been been making a (wine) pilgrimage every year to Napa since 1976.

His authentic, sporty competitiveness shows through in the wine industry (similar to Hockey great Igor Larionov who has his own celebrity wines)...

He began talking about his winemaker (Bob Pepi) and used a racing metaphor to explain his philosophy: "I'm the driver [Mario], give me something [meaning wine] I can win with. [the winemaker]"

Mario's drawn to the ancient beverage and "always curious" to try new wines.

Mario's wine tasting advice?

"Trust your palate. The palate never lies...you will know what you like."

Click here more information on Andretti Winery >>

Contact Peter Mielzynski Agencies Ltd. to inquire about purchasing Andretti wines in Canada.

P.S. I tried a delicious Pinot Grigio at the Hunt Club paired with Oysters, and at a recent iYellow Strategy meeting, a few of us tried an outstanding bottle of Andretti's Napa Valley Cabernet.