From Porn Star To Italian Wine Maven
There’s a good chance that you might recognize Natalie Oliveros, a.k.a. Savanna Samson, from her roles in such award-winning adult films as The Masseuse with Jenna Jameson, The New Devil in Miss Jones and Debbie Does Dallas… Again. (We'll spare you the hyperlinks). But would you believe us if we said we knew her instead from her work with acclaimed winemaker Roberto Cipresso of Fattoria La Fiorita? Didn’t think so. Oliveros started working with Cipresso in 2006 and has since become a partner in the winery. The newest release, La Fiorita Brunello di Montalcino 2006, will be released in early 2013. She talked to us about her transition from adult film to Italian wine.
Have you always been into wine?
When I was still in the adult industry, I thought making wine would be a way to carry on a legacy, something my family and I could be proud of. But it actually brought me back to my roots. When I was a little girl, I made wine in the basement with my dad. My sister and I would take turns churning grapes. We would get in trouble because neighborhood boys were sneaking in to drink the wine. So, I always had an affinity to it.
How did you decide to transition from porn to winemaking?
I haven’t made a movie since 2010. I’d been struggling for some time with, like, who am I these days? I’d been Savanna Samson for so long. I kept thinking that when I finally own my own vineyard, then Natalie can come forward. So, I feel like now I’ve found my place in this life. I was in Italy for the harvest last year and after all the workers left, I sat under an olive tree. I was just looking out at the landscape and smelling the freshly cut vines and had this sense of overwhelming gratitude. I thought, "This is where I belong."
Was it difficult to leave the adult film world?
I knew I wouldn’t be in front of the camera forever. My son is 11 now. I’ve always told him that "mommy’s not ashamed of what she does. She’s an entertainer and this is how she chose to entertain." But I have to also be responsible for the fact that kids at school can be cruel. I don’t want my actions to cause him any harm. I try to teach him that you can’t judge people by what their parents do for a living.
Any parallels between making porn and making wine?
If you think about it, good wine, good sex — they’re both feel-good things. But, you know, I never thought that the things I accomplished under my pseudonym, Savanna Samson, [would impact my future projects]. I was blind to the fact that people might not want to drink my wine because they think it’s “porn star wine.”
Seems like quite a few adult film stars have entered the wine and spirits business.
I’ve never just put my name on something, like so many celebrities do. I’m tasting, blending, working the harvest. I’m really becoming one with my terroir. I need to be true in everything I do and actually have a hands-on role.
"If you think about it, good wine, good sex — they’re both feel-good things."
Why Italian wine, specifically?
Years ago, I didn’t really know much about wine. I would go into a wine shop and ask for suggestions. Then, I went to a dinner with my ex-husband who was in the wine business. I had a Brunello di Montalcino that night. We ended up traveling together throughout Italy and France. I loved the smell of the cellars. And the food. The ingredients are so fresh in Italy. Plus, I have Italian roots. My nonna was from Calabria.
What’s the sexiest wine you’ve worked on?
My Brunello di Montalcino is pretty sexy juice. But I can’t take credit for this one. My first vintage will be 2011 and we won’t be able to drink it until 2018 at least because Brunello needs so much time. As for my favorite wine, I think your experience in the glass has to do with the way you’re feeling that day and the people you’re with.
Sexiest wine pairing for your Brunello di Montalcino?
Bistecca, of course. I love that in Italy they put olive oil on their meat. It’s kinda kinky.
Read more about Italian wines on Food Republic:
- 5 Things We Learned About Lambrusco
- 5 Italian White Wines To Drink Right Now
- Inside Illy's Coffee And Wine Empire