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WINE WITH PUNCH



Published: Sat, May 16, 2009 @ 12:05 a.m.

By Amanda C. Davis

Local winery to make Mancini’s Southpaw

The former boxing champ’s signature wine should be available to the public by late summer.

POLAND – Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini is a southpaw and has the name and wine label to prove it.

Southpaw refers to someone who is left-handed, which Mancini is. Mancini is an Italian family name derived from mancino, which means left-handed. So it made sense for the former boxer and Youngstown native to use Southpaw as the name for his new wine.

The former World Boxing Association lightweight champion’s signature wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon, will be made by L’uva Bella Winery, 6597 Center Road in Poland Township.

L’uva Bella owners Frank and Ruth Sergi had a ribbon-cutting Friday for family, friends, local politicians and the media. The winery has a tasting room, lounge, kitchen and area for private parties. It also sells gift baskets and wine-making supplies.

Officials on hand included county Commissioners David Ludt and Anthony Traficanti, Lowellville Mayor Jim Iudiciani, Poland Township Trustee Robert Lidle, Campbell Mayor Jack Dill and state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-33rd, who presented the Sergis with a proclamation from the senate.

L’uva winemaker Joe Hollabaugh said he hopes Southpaw will be available for sale to the public by late summer. Superior Beverage, which hosted a party at L’uva on Friday afternoon, will distribute the wine throughout Northeast Ohio, Hollabaugh said. Mancini told the crowd national distribution will follow, with establishments in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago already agreeing to carry it.

Mancini said it took almost a year to agree on the right blend for the wine, which he said has fruity notes and doesn’t cause a hangover.

“It’s a sexy wine,” he explained. Mancini’s son Leonardo came up with the name, and his daughter Nina helped design the label.

Mancini will also be at L’uva Bella today. Live music is planned for tonight, and a steak fry from 12 to 6 p.m. is open to the public.

A mutual friend of Mancini’s and the Sergis suggested the partnership, but Mancini said he first wanted to see what the operation was about.

He considers himself a wine enthusiast, and after meeting with L’uva staff a few times, he decided the operation was “top notch” and “state-of-the-art.” Frank Sergi said the family has put at least $1 million into renovating the site, just west of the Pennsylvania border where a motorcycle shop once stood.

Hollabaugh said L’uva will make a private reserve label for Mancini in the fall. “He’ll actually be getting his hands in it and making it,” Hollabaugh said. “Maybe he’ll punch some grapes.”

Mancini, 48, a native of Youngstown’s South Side and a Cardinal Mooney High School graduate, moved to California in 1985 and now resides in Santa Monica.

Mancini said he comes home to Youngstown often and hopes to purchase a second home in the Valley within the next five years.

The boxer began his amateur career as a left-hander but switched on advice from his then-trainer Ed Sullivan. He went on to capture the lightweight championship title, which he held from 1982 to 1984. Mancini officially retired from boxing in 1985 though he fought a few times after that.

He runs two movie production companies, Mancini Pictures International and Boom Boom Productions, and owns El Campeon Cigar Co. He has also appeared in a handful of films.


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