A Passionate Pioneer
WORDS BY TRACY FREEMAN
PHOTO BY ROD MILLINGTON
Through the last four years of publishing Edible Sarasota, certain individuals and memories have become permanently engraved in my mind and in my heart. One particular memory is the day that I met Antonio Fiorelli of Rosa Fiorelli Winery. His calloused, purple-stained hands, his skin bronzed by decades in the sun, and his welcoming smile I will never forget.
On a very hot and humid summer day, I spent an afternoon walking his vineyard—sipping wine, picking grapes off the vine—and became inspired by the purity of his dream. His belief was that hard work was the path to success, and he had the hands to prove it. Antonio shared his passion for winemaking with everyone from his grape-growing peers to the thoroughly untrained. He was the president of a local grape-growing chapter that offers classes and seminars in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Lincoln Middle School now has a small vineyard, where Antonio contributed vine cuttings and time to foster the fledgling viticulturists. Keiser Community College culinary students have assisted during the harvest to learn firsthand the science of the vine and the artistry of winemaking.
Antonio passed away on December 23, 2013, the 39th anniversary of his marriage to Rosa, after whom the family business was named. Thank you, Antonio. You changed many lives and your love of the vine will continue to grow.