Episode 382 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently and features Ernest Ifkovitz is a partner in PortoVino, an importer of Italian wines into the United States.
Ernest Ifkovitz is by his own admission an unlikely wine importer: with blue collar (or no collar) roots and no particular history in the wine trade, he decided to launch his own business. His location – Ernest lives in a medieval era castle outside of Florence – certainly helped in his search for producers, but even he will confess that it was hard to sell to American buyers in the States while based in Italy. In fact in this interview Ernest often goes in two directions at once: embracing the solitary comforts of Italian poetry translation before careening off into an ocean dip with total strangers who had become fast friends. A tourist visiting Italy who quickly becomes tired of other tourists in Italy, but then goes about planning whole trips for many of them to this day. Going out searching for the obscure and the different, but coming back steadfast in his belief in a Prosecco producer. None of these contradictions are lost on Ernest, and in fact it appears that he would have it no other way. He prefers to look for a truth patched together in multiple hues. And in the end, it has worked out well for him. Ernest’s business is relatively thriving today, he has developed stronger relationships with his family, and you get the sense that he is even being a bit nicer to himself these days. Which of course makes him wonder how it all could have happened to him. If you have ever dreamed of being a wine importer, you might find his thoughts about that to be especially provoking.
I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine