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With an Ethos of Quality and Sustainability: ZIOBAFFA Pinot Grigio Terre Siciliane IGT + Braised Celery Over Farro Couscous #ItalianFWT


This month the Italian Food Wine Travel writers are looking at organic, biodynamic, and natural wines of Italy. Katarina of Grapevine Adventures is hosting the group and shared this post.

If you are reading this early enough, feel free to join us on Twitter at 8am on Saturday, March 5th. Follow the hashtag #ItalianFWT and be sure to add that to anything you tweet so we can see it. Here are the articles that the writers are sharing on this topic...

Zio Baffa

ZIOBAFFA is a self-declared "Italian-Californian collaboration or maybe just a modern twist on an old tradition." Yep. I was immediately intrigued and grateful to get my hands on a bottle of their Pinot Grigio Terre Siciliane IGT for this event.

Zio Baffa ("Uncle Baffa") is filmmaker Jason Baffa who has traveled the globe with his friends and his camera to produce movies about their love for surfing and the carefree surfing subculture. The films include Singlefin: Yellow, One California Day, and Bella Vita which follows a California surfer who returns to his family roots in Italy - a parallel to Baffa's own ancestry.

Baffa - along with winemaker Piergiorgio Castellani - runs ZIOBAFFA with a passionate ethos of quality and sustainability. All of the grapes are organically grown because it's better for the consumer and the environment. On the company's website, they write: "Health benefits show, that on average, organic wine contains higher levels of vitamin C, essential minerals and cancer fighting antioxidants.  Organic farming eliminates over 400 pesticide chemicals routinely used in non-organic farming, benefiting the end consumer and the surrounding farmland and wildlife." 

They use only energy from renewable resources in production and manufacturing. Their bottles are made from recycled glass and the labels are made from FSC (The Forest Stewardship Council)-certified paper, produced from raw material obtained through sustainable farming practices, printed with non-toxic ink, and affixed using bio-friendly, non-toxic glue. 

But what I found compelling was their revolutionary new HELIX™ cork closure that is biofriendly and reusable. The production of the HELIX™ cork is highly sustainable in that the entire cork tree isn't harvested - just its bark. The cork tree continues to live and grow!


The grapes for this are hand-harvested in the middle of August from their Sicilian vineyards whose soil is a unique mix of limestone and white chalk. Then the grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks.

The wine poured a bright straw color with a rim of green. On the nose, I noted citrus and peaches. But the palate was richer and more nuanced than the aromas! This wine was plump and juicy with layers of lemon, apple, and ginger. I really love Italian Pinot Grigio wines as they feel more lush and rich than those made elsewhere. And this was no exception. I noticed that Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm poured ZIOBAFFA's Tuscan red for this event. I can't wait to get my hands on a bottle of that wine, too. Cin cin!

Braised Celery Over Farro Couscous

When I was trying to decide what to make to go alongside the wine, I wanted a vegetarian dish and something with an Italian tie. I landed on braised celery because I had a bunch of organic celery in the crisper and I had a package of couscous made from stoneground farro semolina grown in the hills of Abruzzo.

  • celery ribs, cut to the length of your pan
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 3 Tablespoons vinegar (I used an apple cider vinegar) 
  • 6 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons zata'ar spice blend
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cheese for serving (I used ricotta salata)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts for serving (I used pecans)
  • Also needed: heavy bottom pan (I used an enameled cast iron braiser; couscous prepared according to package directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop celery in and blanch for three minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together garlic, vinegar, olive oil, zata'ar spice blend. Place blanched celery in the mixture and toss to coat.

Place celery in your braising dish and pour the stock over them. Drizzle in half the dressing. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 45 to 60 minutes, depending on the thickness of the celery.

 It should still be al dente with bits of the celery nicely charred and browned.

To serve, transfer to a platter with the cooked farro couscous. Drizzle with the rest of the dressing. Top with crumbled cheese and nuts. Serve immediately.

That is a wrap for our March #ItalianFWT event. Next month we'll be back with articles about the Slow Food Movement; if you didn't know: it started in Italy! Gwendolyn of Wine Predator is hosting. Stay tuned.


  1. Well you did a much better job of researching Zio Baffa than I. LOL.....

  2. Those HELIX corks sounds pretty cool how they just utilize the bark and save the tree. And they are reusable?

    1. You know, I reused it for that bottle which still has wine in it! I don't know if it will work for any other bottle. I will let you know.

  3. How interesting this producer and wine, I did not know anything about them so far. Great that the wines are organic. I will check them out for sure. Yummy pairing too. :-)


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