Ania Gatto said one of the things she likes best about her work as a concierge is the feeling of accomplishment “knowing you have made someone’s trip a lifetime experience.”
“That is what lets me sleep well at night,” said Gatto.
Three years ago Gatto joined Wine Country Concierge. In 2015, she bought the business from then-owner Jackie Richmond.
1. You said you were born in Warsaw, Poland. How did you end up in the U.S.?
My dad was an Olympic coach for sailing. He worked for the Spanish, American, German and Portuguese team (for 40 years).
I tell people my heritage is Polish, my education is Spanish and I’ve lived 20 years in the States. (Having) lived in three different cultures allows me to adapt quite quickly and I think that’s one of my gifts.
2. What’s a common misconception you get about your business?
They think I’m a limo driver. Or that I have a driving company.
3. What does Wine Country Concierge provide?
We are a high-touch, non-pretentious, luxury concierge service. We have intimate relationships with local wineries, farmers, owners and of course, we also (arrange) lodging.
4. What was your first job?
I started my long-time love of hospitality and wine during college in Philadelphia. I was a daytime bartender at a restaurant in downtown that featured 120 wines by the glass. Ristorante Panorama is still in existence and holds the largest Cruvinet system, which is system where the wines poured on tap, meanwhile the bottles are hooked up to a line of Co2.
5. What’s the worst job you ever had?
When I worked harvest in Stag’s Leap, I realized that wine making and production was not for me. I am programmed to be around people and missed human contact. After working for the Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons I realized that hospitality and people are what I thrive in.
6. How did you get into this business?
After working four years at Panorama in Philly, I worked for the Ritz Carlton Hotels in the wine department which led me into my sommelier career in New York City.
After eight years in NYC and being part of four opening teams of multiple Michelin star restaurants, I moved to Napa so that I could stay close to my love of wine and yet distance myself from the restaurant world, while using my skills of hospitality, attention to detail and wine knowledge. Wine Country Concierge allows me to thrive in all of those.
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7. What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Our challenge has become our biggest asset, which is to be able to work with clients that we don’t meet in person and yet fulfill all of their wishes when visiting the wine country.
8. What’s on your to-do list?
I have visited over 300 wineries in Northern California and tasted thousands of wines. While I keep a tight schedule to continue my search and knowledge on a weekly basis, my goal is to visit and meet the people behind all of them.
9. Which three people would you most like to have dinner with?
-Julia Child would be a hoot, especially if we could dine in one of Napa’s three-star Michelin restaurants so that I could hear her thoughts on the cuisine.
-André Tchelistcheff would be the ideal winemaker to share current Napa’s cult wines.
-George Yount because he was the first permanent Euro-American settler in Napa Valley.
10. Who do you most admire in the business world?
-Robert and Margrit Mondavi for creating a brand that is world famous and put Napa Valley on the map.
-The Gamble Family for continuing to farm Napa Valley since 1916. Specifically, Tom Gamble for continuing the family legacy meanwhile supporting sustainability and preservation of agriculture in Napa Valley.
-Dick Peterson, Heidi Barrett’s father. He is an incredible winemaker that is an open book about farming and wine making in Napa in the late ‘60s. His book “The Winemaker” is one of my favorites and so is his sparkling wine.
Gatto can be reached at 707 965-2400.