MANATEE -- About a month ago, Rosa Fiorelli, owner of the Rosa Fiorelli Winery & Vineyard, decided it was time for someone else to take over managing the operation in East Manatee County.
Fiorelli and her husband, Antonio, built the winery from the ground up in 1998, planting grapes and building a 3,000-square-foot facility to press, crush and ferment grapes to bottle wine at 4250 County Road 675.
"Her husband really built it for her," said David Chaloupka, the title president of the business, Rosa Fiorelli Winery Inc. Chaloupka will take over managing the winery, vineyard and business, though Rosa Fiorelli still owns the 10-acre parcel, according to Manatee County records.
Chaloupka signed notarized paperwork to buy Rosa Fiorelli Winery Inc. on July 10.
Rosa Fiorelli said she wouldn't want anyone else in charge of the business besides Chaloupka.
"He knows how to make wine," she said. "I know because I see him working over here. He knows the business." Chaloupka is third-generation from a family of oenophiles, or wine connoisseurs. He grew up watching family members succeed in the wine business, starting with his grandparents in Italy.
The Fiorellis and Chaloupkas have known each other for years, Chaloupka said, but the transition has still been rough for Rosa Fiorelli after managing it for so many years with her
"It's a family business and Rosa will stay on in a limited capacity," Chaloupka said.
After her Antonio passed away in 2013, Rosa Fiorelli was determined to live out her husband's dream.
"I want to see it working and succeed because this was his dream," she said. Antonio and Rosa Fiorelli moved to Manatee County from Italy nearly 40 years ago.
Chaloupka intends to keep the Fiorellis' dreams alive and expand the winery's offerings as well as grow the event calendar. He hopes to host art shows and display artists' work at the Fiorellis' winery.
"There are so many artists out there that have never been given the opportunity," he said. "I want to be able to hold art shows throughout the course of the year and this way they can gain recognition. It's one of the hardest things artists go up against."
The Long Island native has been in Manatee County for about 30 years and plans to take advantage of the abundance of tropical fruits and local produce available to him in addition to imported varieties. He's working on a variety of red and white wines featuring pumpkin, apple, blackberry, papaya, mango and peach flavors.
The winery, known as Rosa Fiorelli's Wine in the Vines, just completed phase one of a series of renovations. Chaloupka described phase one as a "major overturning, just bringing things up to date and cleaning everything up to really be sexy." More renovations and additional structures are planned, though he's keeping mum about phase two details for now.
The Fiorellis' vision will live on fueled by Chaloupka's deep passion for making wine.
"It's the creativity and opportunity to create the mad science that drives people to be tantalized," he said. "It is a form of art."
Janelle O'Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow her on Twitter@jayohday.