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Alum winemaker creates flavorful draughts

Bojanowski ’89 returned to Providence to exhibit his wine made from French-grown grapes

John Bojanowski ’89 has spent the last 23 years putting down roots in France, roots that date back to 1911. Bojanowski is part of a husband and wife vintner team that produces around 30,000 bottles of organic wine each year from Saint Jean de Minervois, a tiny village in southern France, he told The Herald Friday at a tasting held at Campus Fine Wines. 

The event, part of a series of tastings held each Friday at the wine shop, featured four of Bojanowski’s nine wines, from a bitter red to a sweet dessert wine. The wines are grown in soil Bojanowski and his wife spent several years searching for in the Languedoc region in southern France. The vine that started the vineyard was first planted in 1911 and is an old-fashioned grape that has come to make their flagship wine, he said.

“Sous les Cailloux des Grillons,” made in 2011, translates to “under the rocks, the crickets” and is a rich red of pleasing hue with a fresh aftertaste. The name refers to the crickets that live on the soil where the grapes grow.

This wine is really “everything but the kitchen sink,” said Howard Mahady, one of the owners of Campus Fine Wines.

It was important to the couple to make a good red in the region, something sunny and fresh, Bojanowski said, adding that the most well-known wines of the village are made from Muscat grapes, which produce wines similar to Port.

“Lo Vielh Carignan,” made in 2009, is made from Bojanowski’s oldest vines. Its name comes from the Occitan dialect of the region. More bitter than the other red, this wine would, pair well with rich meat or pasta, according to the vineyard’s website.

“L’Inattendu,” made in 2011, is quite literally “the unexpected,” Bojanowski said, adding that “some people who are looking for a light, fruity wine, they are surprised” by this one. The white is made from pink and white Grenaches and would pair well with cheese and sardines, according to the website.

Bojanowski came to Brown from Kentucky in the 1980s with the goal of becoming either a writer or a biologist, but soon found he was not enamored of the life sciences. For his senior thesis, he wrote a novel, he said.

He said that upon graduation, he looked for any job that would pay him to travel, finally settling on one that let him see over 50 countries. He met his wife, who was already in the wine business, through a friend, he said, and the two developed dreams of making their own wine together.

Coming back to Providence provides a chance to both talk to local distributors and restaurants and visit old haunts, like the houses where he lived and Loui’s Family Restaurant, Bojanowski said. Though he returned once three years ago, this is the first time he has been featured in a local tasting, he said.

Students should be aware that there are varieties of wine outside the typical Chardonnay or Merlot, Bojanowski said, adding that they should try as many types as possible.

As an expatriate living in France, Bojanowski said one might expect his selling process to be more challenging, but he has not found this to be the case. He said he gets less “flack” in Paris than in Kentucky, where Americans seem to want to be sold wine from someone who seems more stereotypically French.

Finally, “Douce Providence,” made in 2011, is a tangy dessert wine with “pineapple and rose aromas,” according to the website. Sweet enough to ruin one’s appetite before dinner, but soft enough to pair with fruit, this wine would be the perfect end to any meal, from the tables of Federal Hill to the kitchens across campus.



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