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On Wine: Wine sneakers


I bought a pair of Adidas sneakers a few years ago because I needed a new pair of white sneaks, which these were, and they’re pretty cool looking too. It was the kind of online purchase where every detail may not have been apparent, but I went ahead with it anyway.

The not-so-obvious details I missed when I was ordering turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise. Upon sneaker arrival, I realized that the beige bits on the tongue and sides of the shoes were not leather like the rest of the shoe. They’re cork. Real cork.

About a month later I discovered (more like stumbled across) another cool feature I hadn’t yet noticed. At the top of the shoe’s tongue, hidden under the laces, there’s a small, sewn on, black and gold patch showing a grape cluster. Grapes on the tongue. I love it. These are now my “wine sneakers.” I’m wearing them as I write this column.

On the little grape cluster patch is the word “Viaggio,” Italian for “voyage.” There’s a winery in Lodi, California, named Viaggio Estate & Winery. Their website offers no clue to any sneaker connection, so I called them.

Rosalin, in the tasting room, and Teri, the owner of Viaggio Estate & Winery, were very pleasant and accommodating, quite interested in my sneakers, and wanted to see a picture of them, but had no idea of any relationship that might explain it. Their cordial, gracious response has put Viaggio on my “to visit” list next time I’m near Lodi.

My mysterious sneakers show how wine can sometimes sneak into your life unannounced and in unexpected ways. It’s happened a few times for me, and I remain on the watch for more intriguing wine surprises.

Ernest Valtri of Buckingham is a sculptor, painter, graphic designer, and a former member of the PLCB’s Wine Advisory Council. Contact Erno at

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