The story behind Vinosko
It has been said that one of the most important components to a pleasant retirement is finding a hobby you can fill your days with. For former helicopter navigator Stein Erik Ansethmoen, the hobby of choice was somewhat out of the ordinary, and it has resulted in the quality wines Vinosko which are now available in the Norwegian market.
The journey begins
The story behind the wines from Vinosko started six years ago, when Stein Erik decided to become a sommelier. While studying he met Jostein Ausland from Fun Fuel, and this friendship would later on lead to the wines from Vinosko becoming available to the Norwegian market. After finishing his studies to become a sommelier, Stein Erik retired three years ago.
"I was working as a helicopter navigator in Squadron 330 for 35 years, and started planning my retirement three years before I retired. We bought a house in Italy in 2013, and as part of this process I had gained a substantial network there, and learned some Italian," Stein Erik explains.
Even though Stein Erik mainly focus on the production of his wine these days, customers of Vinosko can find parts of the story behind the wines on their labels, which are decorated with a helicopter. Stein Erik lives in Sandnes in Norway, but he travels to Italy every month, and stays for a couple of weeks every time.
«I take part in every step of the process, from cropping to adding the labels on the wine bottles. Everything is done by hand, and we focus on quality in every step," Stein Erik says.
The perfect hobby
Behind every good idea, there is a need for hard work and good helpers. Three years ago, Stein Erik hired an oenologist to work for him and help with the production. Oenologist Gian Luca Petti has many years of experience working with larger vineyards, which has given him much knowledge on the subject.
«When I told him about my project, he was interested and onboard right away, and we have since become very good friends," Stein Erik explains.
Since then, Gian Luca has taught Stein Erik much about wine, and he is now taking part in every step of the production. Even though Stein Erik is the one making all the decisions, he gives Gian Luca much of the honor for the success and high quality of the wines.
«I do this because it is what I want to spend my time doing, and because I am very passionate about wine. I taste somewhere around 350 different wines every year, and I now have a tasting portfolio representing about 2500 wines that I have tested. I also have a wine cellar with somewhere between 350 and 400 bottles of wine," Stein Erik details.
Hard work behind every bottle
The two types of wine Vinosko has produces so far have been very popular among customers, and they have received great reviews. Stein Erik himself believes much of the reason for this is the amount of thought and hard work that goes into every bottle, and how Vinosko does not do everything like other wine producers.
«When I commit to something, I always give it everything I have, and devote much time to researching and learning about the subject. One example of this is how we use 350 liter chestnut barrels for my white wine, and this is something you rarely see when producing wine this way," Stein Erik says.
His oenologist Gian Luca was skeptical when he first brought up this suggestion, and Stein Erik received feedback that this was not something they would usually do. However, after following through with it anyways, they have both later agreed that the white wine is the most special wine, and perhaps also the best wine.
Production in an idyllic scenery
Stein Erik leases around three hectares of land in Italy for growing his grapes, through a five-year contract in the city of Orvieto, in Umbria. The entire production takes place at Tenuta Santa Croce, where Stein Erik produces all his wine and stores his barrels.
«The vineyard is owned by a German man, and he is a very nice guy. He has been incredibly helpful, and assists me with more than I ask for," Stein Erik explains.
In terms of what wines he likes, Stein Erik finds it practically impossible to choose one favorite, as it all comes down to the setting. However, he has fallen in love with the more fruity wines which are often found in central Italy, which is one of the reasons why these are the wines he wants to focus on.
«These are wines of high quality. Behind every bottle lies much work, and they are supposed to be a little exclusive, which is why I do not wish to mass produces them," Stein Erik says.
Setting new goals
When Stein Erik first started producing wine, his goal was to make a good wine of high quality and have it accepted by Vinmonopolet. Now that this goal has been successfully reached, Stein Erik is looking into what his next goal should be.
«We are now talking about perhaps trying to make a sparkling semi-sweet rosé wine, in a lower price range. It looks like this is something the market is interested in, so this might be our next project," Stein Erik says.
In addition to the great quality of the wines, the red wine from Vinosko is organic. Furthermore, both the red wine and the white wine are vegan, as Stein Erik uses potato flour instead of the more common alternative gelatin, to clear his wines.