By Rick Riozza

One of the great takeaways of a wine festival is meeting and getting to know wine purveyors whom perhaps one would have never met or heard of.  This was exactly the case when we met Marina Elettra Snow (akaNina“), at David Fraschetti’s inaugural Rancho Mirage Wine & Food Festival last year.

Nina is the owner of DOCG Imports, whose web-site invites all of us wine folk to “Bring the local flavor of Italy to your table with artisan, small-production Italian wines. Hand selected by Nina from vineyard to you. Italian excellence, exclusively imported for California.”  Check out her on-line wine shop at

There’s no question that this Vino Voice column has its share of Italian wine lovers all over the place.  The fact that Italy-America Chamber of Commerce of Texas selected me as one of their representatives in an all-expense paid trip to Verona’s VinItaly last year because of my past articles on Italian wine, tells me of the column’s interest.  I’m not saying this to brag—but rather, I’m on board to get the word out, locally and around town on Nina’s Italian wine portfolio.


Nina is a California native from San Diego who has lived in Rome, Sardegna and Venice, Italy for the over 15 years. With Italian family roots in Tuscany, she’s grown up with a love of amazing food and is currently living the dream between California and Italy.

Nina’s website continues: “With one foot in San Diego, California and the other in Sardegna, Italy, DOCG Imports has two homes. Both evoke the company’s belief in searching for excellent and currently unknown products and experiences. DOCG Imports only bring the best hand-crafted, small-production, family-made Italian wines to California. Wines are available for wholesale and online retail sale.”

So back at last year’s Rancho Mirage Wine & Food fest—prior to that event, I interviewed Dave Fraschetti, who told me about Nina and her Italian connections and wine.  Fraschetti who’s been the promoter of the VinDiego Wine and Food Festival—one of the most fun events down in San Diego, going on nine years now, came to know Nina from her participation in San Diego wine events.

By his recommendation, my son Paolo and I were really eager to meet with Nina, who Dave said was going to be pouring Sardinian wines at his Rancho Mirage festival. When was the last time someone poured you some delicious Sardinian wine?  Meeting the fun and lively Nina was like a breath of fresh air surrounded by tasty quaffs of fresh wine!  We could tell she was really up on her game, very informative and very gracious with her time.

She talked about desiring to get her wines more widely known in our valley.  I remember chiming in that perhaps we can involve ourselves with assisting her on the wine promotions, events, and tastings.   And how fortuitous was it that Nina and I were both heading out to Verona for the big Italian wine show.  Unfortunately, I lost her contact number there in Italy—but no worries, DOCG Imports is always on my radar as I stay in touch with her.

By the way—for many of you wine drinkers who recognize the lettering but may not actually know the significance, her website explains: “WHAT IS DOCG?  The Italian government has developed stringent rules for growing and producing wine that ensures the highest quality in the production process and a strong respect for tradition.

“The highest designation is called DOCG: Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita. The most important word is Garantita, or Guaranteed.  When it comes to wines and sparkling wines, DOCG Imports brings an exclusive selection of DOCG-certified wines from Italy to California.”

The website continues: “So with a local’s eye and palette for the Italian lifestyle, Nina’s discovered wines that are virtually unknown in the U.S. Regional, boutique wines that, until now, are undiscovered in California. And she’s hand-picking her favorites and sharing them with you through DOCG Imports, where her clients have access to exclusive and rare finds that would make an impressive addition to any cellar or dinner party.”

Nina is A FISAR-certified, second-level sommelier from Federazione Italiana Sommelier – Albergatori Ristoranti. She has over 15 years of professional food and beverage management experience in Italy with executive, VIP and entertainment events and extensive experience with the best restaurants in Rome, Venice, Milan, Florence, Sardegna and Cortina.  Did we mention her immediate access to Italy’s amazing wine regions and producers?

Just a couple of weeks ago, CV Weekly business columnist Haddon Liddy mentioned the fact that while this may be our high season for temperatures instead of tourists, it is also the time when many of us have made plans to beat the summer heat if only for a few days.  The closest and most popular destination for us Coachella Valley residents is San Diego.

Many of us have a favorite restaurant while in San Diego.  Perhaps you recognize a restaurant below, it’s where you can find DOCG Import wines on their list.: Ambrogio 15, Georges at the Cove, Great Maple, Hash House A Go Go, Monello Italian Restaurant, Searsucker, Sicilia Bella, and Solare Ristorante.

I hope that you Italian wine fans—and wine fans in general, find this column informative as to learning about, and, possibly acquiring some stellar, hand-curated wine selections.  Let’s taste some wines from her portfolio next time around.  Having Nina available for her expertise is something well to consider.

While in Italy, I look forward to perhaps meeting with some of the winemakers Nina personally works with.  So stay tuned for some fun reports!  Ciao Bella!