Francine Lubera, CSW, CEO/Owner of SOFIA VOLO

Francine Lubera, CSW, CEO/Owner of SOFIA VOLO

How did you get into wine, they asked?  Good question.

Good enough that it made me think about it. After a fantastic public relations and publishing career under the NFL’s umbrella, first with the Cleveland Browns, and then with the two-time, Super Bowl-winning Baltimore Ravens, where I co-wrote and edited Super Journey (2001) along with numerous other publications,  I was looking for something a little different. Something with my own watermark.

Please don’t get me wrong. Football is in my blood. It’s how I got here. As it happened, I traveled a lot. I’ve been to every NFL football stadium more than once, spare one. Even got to iconic Wembley Stadium in London.  I did what was then-called an advance: checked out the team hotel, visited the opponent’s offices, met with the media, and sometimes made an on-site stadium tour several days before the team was to arrive. I’d return home, then traveled out with the team again on Saturday. We’d fly back Sunday right after the game. Since I’d been to the city for the advance, I was tapped by many in the traveling party for restaurants.

“How about Northern Italian?” or “I want a big, juicy steak.”  We had a little time to kill on the road, so we ate dinner. They always handed me the wine list, and with great confidence I chose the wine. Okay, no. I stumbled over the list. I whispered to the waiter, “What do YOU think?”  I never thought to ask for their sommelier. In fact, I didn’t know what that was.

Out of desperation, I found myself studying restaurant wine lists, buying wine magazines and voraciously absorbing what I could. And then what was originally annoying and flattering at the same time, I realized,  I liked it.

If you’re thinking, “Football and wine, for real?”  Think New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans….Great restaurants, great wines.

One day, I thought I wanted to seriously get into wine. Wine bar? No. But, something wine. Thought about it for a long time, then it came to me. In-home wine parties that are casual, educational and fun? Yes. Wine is a beautiful thing. Mouth watering, sometimes gorgeous on the palate, either alone or with food, and something — if everything is working — magical. So I took classes, studied hard (you can’t stop, it evolves, always), and voilà! Now, a Certified Specialist of Wine, I humbly continue my education.

I’ve been to France, Italy, Napa, Sonoma, and a few other places. Wine is like this instant connection to the earth and world history.  My mission is to keep the wine tastings casual, and my reverent respect for all who have gone before me is boundless.

Here’s where I raise a glass to my grandfather, Joseph, who made red wine in his basement, allowing the wine to age in large old oak barrels. Thank you, grandfather.

Lastly, what is Sofia Volo?  Volo means flight(s) in Italian. So there’s that. Sofia came about this way:

S = Sophia (my Grandmother, Joseph’s wife)

O = of  (seriously)

F  = Francine (that would be me)

:wine_glass: = :wine_glass:

A = Anne (my Mother)

Now let’s get started tasting some wine, only casual.

About The Certified Specialist of Wine: The Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) is an internationally recognized certification denoting a high level of wine knowledge and expertise. CSW holders are found in every aspect of the wine industry. CSW is a certification program authorized by the Society of Wine Educators, of which, Lubera is a professional member. She is also a member of the French Wine Society.