May 4, 2023

TCGP S2 E15 An American in Florence with Ernest Ifkovitz

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On this episode of THE COCKTAIL GURU PODCAST, hosts Jonathan & Jeffrey Pogash talk all things wine with An American in Florence, US native-turned-Italian national Ernest Ifkovitz, founder of PortoVino, about his unquenchable thirst for putting the small family wineries of Italy, Germany, and Austria on the world stage! All brought to you by The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley and Unleashed Coffee. THE COCKTAIL GURU PODCAST is produced by 1st Reel Entertainment and distributed by EatsDrinksTV, a service of the Center for Culinary Culture—Home of The Cocktail Collection, and is available wherever fine podcasts can be heard. The Center for Culinary Culture—Telling the Story of Food & Drink…One Taste at a Time.

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Ernest IfkovitzProfile Photo

Ernest Ifkovitz


Ernest Ifkovitz is the founder of PortoVino, a national importer of small family wineries in Italy, Germany, and Austria. He’s originally from the States, but made his way over to Europe twenty years ago, with a degree in classical studies, and a bit of U.S. student debt. For the past 15 years, he’s been living with his family in Florence, Italy. To the relief of his Italian wife, he has never adopted the Speedo swimsuit style. He’s still, after all these years, trying to meld his peanut butter and jelly upbringing, with an Italian family, including a lovely teenager, who criticizes his risotto stirring skills. He adores his chattering white Siberian cat called Ivy, whose movements he attempts to mimic in his tennis game.Ernest works in a small studio in Florence that has empty wine bottles of his favorite wine moments; he likes to look at them like books on a shelf. His selection process and relationship with producers is straightforward: taste everything, multiple times, be thoughtful yet honest, and act as a sounding board for them. With the advantage of living in Italy, he often happily knocks on producers’ doors, and enjoys learning and chatting with the younger and older generations. He never says no to the bitter ristretto with grandmothers after tastings. He aspires to be neither a wine producer, nor a sommelier. He feels that being an importer, for him at least, is not about being a rock star, and certainly it can’t be as boring as giving the market what it wants: it’s about the often laughable searching for vinous beauty, being an increasingly smaller part of a stellar team, and solidifying a business sense he started to acquire when he had a lawn business in middle school… persevering.