Dwight Stanford is living my dream. I say this as a way of full disclosure and transparency and with no small amount of jealousy.
Stanford is a Carrollton, Mo., native and a former Kansas City resident. He was a surgeon, working at Research Medical Center. Through the years, Stanford had developed quite the palate and a real affinity for wine.
But, unlike 99.9 percent of the rest of us wine lovers, Stanford took the leap and parlayed his love of wine into a second career in wine.
Stanford is the co-producer of Paolini e Stanford Winery in Italy’s Marche region on the Adriatic coast. He also co-owns a bed and breakfast nestled among the vineyards and rolling hills in the region.
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“There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not working with my hands in the vineyards,” Stanford said. “This project is an incredible amount of hard work.”
Stanford became interested in owning a winery and a bed and breakfast in Italy after taking a Slow Food master’s class. After two weeks, he decided to find an Italian partner and started looking for properties.
“We looked a lot in Tuscany, but the land there was so expensive,” he said. “When we found the location in La Marche, we just knew it was right. It’s so beautiful, bucolic really.”
I caught up with Stanford at a recent wine dinner he was hosting with Japer Mirabile at Jasper’s Restaurant. The meal was outstanding, featuring five of Stanford’s wines. I’m not sure what I enjoyed more, Jasper’s versions of authentic Marche cuisine or Stanford’s wide-ranging, delicious and diverse wines.
I liked all of Stanford’s wines, but my particular favorite was the Baccofino. Made with 100 percent Montepulciano grapes, the highest rated Montepulciano wine in the Marche, according to Stanford.
The Baccofino is a beauty, gushing with ripe red fruit with just a touch of earth and lovely, bracing acidity and soft tannins.
Stanford and his partner farm the land organically and they work the vineyards every day. It doesn’t sound like an easy life, but it sounds like a sweet one for sure.
“To see a project like this, something made by hand, come to fruition; to see the wines turn out so well, and then to come home and share it with friends and family, well, it’s really special,” Stanford said. “It’s amazing.”
La dolce vita indeed.
Dave Eckert was the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS and Wealth TV for 12 seasons.