Occupation: Yoga instructor, studio owner and wine event organizer
Where: Bliss Flow Yoga, 2981 Cahill Main, www.blissflowyoga.com
Why you should go: The global era's all about fusion, and Gargano's cooked up a creative new-century blend to tickle your tongue and tone your tummy, all at once.
How did you find bliss with yoga, wine and food?
I grew up in a Sicilian family. Getting people together to break bread and share wine has always been a huge part of my life. I really believe Sunday dinners are super-important. My dad [legendary Madison restaurateur Peppino Gargano, owner of Peppino's, on the Square] still makes Sunday dinner for us every week. I think we're losing that tradition today. I'm trying to bring back some of that community sensibility with my business.
I worked as a wine buyer in San Francisco for a while. When I moved back to Madison to be closer to my family, I started practicing yoga and fell in love with it. I went to Costa Rica for teacher training. When I opened Bliss Flow Yoga I decided to put out tea and fresh fruit ' it's the hospitality I grew up with ' and I noticed students would hang out and enjoy that after class. So I started doing yoga parties with a spa brunch, and happy hour yoga on Friday evenings ' you can come for a class and stay after for wine and healthy treats. It's a nice alternative to the bar scene.
The 'yoga and wine events' are more elaborate. My friend David Romanelli in California was doing yoga and chocolate events, and yoga and wine seemed like a natural fit to me. So I tried a yoga and wine event, with food pairings. It sold out, so I did another one. Now I do different themes. I love the Sicilian event ' wines from Sicily are very good right now, they're using a lot of native grape varietals. My dad does the food. For the rest, my mom, Kathy Griswold, is our Bliss Flow Yoga chef. We've done a Pacific Northwest theme ' Tillakook cheddar from Oregon with a Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon and salmon basted in lemon-miso-ginger glaze paired with an earthy Oregon pinot noir are on that menu. I was in Argentina recently, and the wines are fantastic ' I'm featuring Argentina next month.
It's not about stuffing yourself. We start with a yoga class. Yoga teaches about moderation, and afterward we're just tasting ' it's all about moderation, finding balance and being present in the experience.
So you ended up being featured in The New York Times?
What happened was, David and I teamed up to do a yoga and wine retreat in Sonoma, Calif., last fall. The Times wrote about it in December, and the concept's really taken off. I did a workshop in Barcelona, and a small one in Amsterdam. I'm giving a workshop at Exhale Spa in Chicago this weekend, and another at Exhale in New York City in May. David and I are doing a retreat at a working winery in Washington State in October, and I'm planning another in Sicily for later this year. We've got a lot going on. It's all an extension of what I believe in, which is how business should be, I hope.