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Robert Biale and the Legend of the Black Chicken

So my grandfather passed away at an early age, shortly after he planted his vineyard down here on the valley floor. My dad was 13 years old.

The following year, he learned how to make wine. Like any good Italian family, he started making it and started selling it with no license and no permit – making it in the barn.

In those days, you know, we communicated through a party-line phone system. The phone rings, but you’re not supposed to pick it up until it’s your ring. But they would pick it up anyway. Of course, my dad knew that, so he came up with this code word and in Italian – actually they would go “Hey Aldo, I need 3 dozen eggs and a black chicken, Gallina Nera”. Code word for a jug a Zinfandel.

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