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Cheers to the Andretti Winery!

DURING the holiday season everyone enjoys a glass or two of wine. Formula 1 fans would be well-advised to try a drop of two of Mario Andretti's range of wines, which he has been producing since 1996.

Formula 1 fans will need little introduction to Mario Andretti, the 1978 World Champion and one of the most successful racing drivers in the history of the sport. He began to enjoy Napa Valley wines in the 1970s and with each visit to the area became more and more interested in wine production. During his final season of racing in 1994 Mario began marketing a red wine named after him and later that year began his second career when he joined forces with Joseph Antonini, the former chairman of Kmart, and established the Andretti Wine Group and raised money by selling shares in the business.

They then acquired and revamped a winery close to the town of Napa in California's Napa Valley wine region. They hired winemaker Robert Pepi to make the wine and bargained on using the Andretti name to promote the brand. The 53-acre estate uses all the latest winemaking technologies and has a hospitality center which can be used for wine-related events.

The company produced its first Sangiovese in 1996. This slightly fizzy red wine slips down easily and retails at $35 a bottle. The 1997 production included Cabernet Sauvignon ($25), Merlot ($23), Pinot Noir ($18) and Lugana Bianca ($9). This was followed in 1998 by a Chardonnay ($16) and in 1999 by a Napa Valley Viognier ($20) and a Sauvignon Blanc ($14).

The wine is easily recognized with an elegant gold crest set in front of a subtle black and grey checkered flag motif and can be obtained in retail outlets and on the Internet. How is it?

Why not try some...

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