Delivered to Italy at age 11 by The Winds of War, Monica Larner has lived most of her life in her adopted home. A Los Angeles native, her family moved to Rome for filming of the 1983 World War II TV mini-series thanks to her father, Director of Photography Stevan Larner (Badlands, Roots, North and South and Caddyshack...).
Her father fell in love with wine as a film student in Paris and Monica grew up in a household that celebrated a deep appreciation for the culture of wine. Roads trips were to Napa and Sonoma and a good portion of the family kitchen was walled off to house her father's cellar, after her mother begrudgingly surrendered the pantry space.
After high school in both Italy and California, Monica earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in journalism (an MA with a minor in Italian studies) from Boston University and New York University respectively. A committed student of the codes and ethics of good journalism, she went on to work for the Italian daily La Repubblica, followed by four years as a reporter in the Rome bureau of BusinessWeek (her bylines include an in-depth look at the Antinori wine dynasty). She spent two years as a staff writer with Italy Daily of the International Herald Tribune where she penned her first wine column. She moved to France following that as a freelance writer.
Monica is an active member of the Ordine dei Giornalisti and much of her social life is linked to Italy's Foreign Press Association community. She is a certified sommelier with the Italian Sommelier Association.
The next phase of her career was characterized by intense travel to every forgotten corner of the Italian peninsula for four guidebooks she authored including Living, Studying and Working in Italy (Henry Holt) and In Love in Italy (Rizzoli USA). Monica created a photographic archive of 50,000 images: There is no Italian city, region or island that Monica has not written about or photographed.
In 1997, her father retired and her parents purchased a beautiful 134-acre ranch in Ballard Canyon, Santa Barbara (California) to fulfill a lifelong dream of making a Larner wine. Monica helped to establish the vineyard, select clones, set cordons, prune, trap gophers and all the rest. Stevan Larner died tragically in a vineyard accident in 2005. Today, Monica's enologist brother Michael manages the family wine venture.
In 2003, Monica was approached by Wine Enthusiast to be the magazine's first Italy-based correspondent and was formally trained to use the 100-point scoring system by Managing Editor Joe Czerwinski. Over the course of the next ten years, her tasting responsibilities grew to 3,000 wines per year (totaling 16,000 published reviews overall). She set up a tasting bureau near the Colosseum in Rome and continued her intense travel to far-flung wine zones. Her proudest achievement is the 185-page special collector's Wine Enthusiast "Wines of Italy" edition that showcases her decade-long body of work.
She was awarded the "Best International Journalist" Silver Grape Leaf three times - more than any individual - by the prestigious Comitato Grandi Cru d'Italia, an association of 130 top producers. Gambero Rosso recognized her as a "Leader of Italian Excellence," a rare achievement for a non-Italian, and the Italian Trade Commission acknowledged her distinguished service to Italian wine.
Monica used her platform as Wine Enthusiast Italian Editor to communicate what she sees as Italy's competitive advantage – its rich patrimony of indigenous grapes, traditions and diverse territories. She firmly believes that the intensifying momentum underway will set the stage for a Golden Age in Italian Wine.
In 2013, she joined The Wine Advocate as the Italian reviewer. Her hope is that she is able, in some small part, to capture the soul of the country she loves through the fascinating narrative of the grape.