Valley Wine Enthusiasts Enjoy ‘A Night in Napa’

YOUNGSTOWN – Casa Piena is Italian for “full house,” and that’s exactly what Carmen Policy had for his A Night in Napa event Tuesday evening.

Policy, a Youngstown native, is a lawyer and businessman who is best known as a former team executive of the San Francisco 49ers and later, the Cleveland Browns, for which he also had an ownership share.

These days, he is the owner and operator of Policy Vineyards in California’s Napa Valley, which produces Casa Piena wine. Policy was the guest of honor at a tasting party and cocktail reception at the Steelite International Corp. Showroom and Experience Center in the Commerce Building in downtown Youngstown.

The event was a fundraiser to benefit two of Policy’s alma maters: Youngstown State University and Ursuline High School. About 80 people attended a $250-per-ticket wine tasting, featuring Casa Piena Cabernet. More purchased the $150 tickets for the cocktail reception that followed and about 80 took part in the $500-per-person private dinner at Michael Alberini’s Restaurant in Boardman to capthe evening.

Casa Piena wine, priced at $150 per bottle and usually available only at finer wine shops and restaurants, was also available for guests to purchase. He explained how the wine got its name.

Casa Piena wine is made at Policy Vineyards in Napa Valley.

“Casa Pieno means full house and I’ve got three sons and two daughters – three of a kind and a pair,” he said. “The house is always full of friends and family and it’s part of the wine lifestyle. You want the house to be fun and to entertain, and we say the wine fulfills the heart.”

The events on Tuesday were organized by John Miles owner and CEO of Steelite of New Castle, Pa. In addition to New Castle and Youngstown, the high-end tableware maker has a presence in other cities worldwide.

“John is a big proponent of Napa Valley wines, and he comes out a lot for his clientele,” said Policy. “We became friends and he asked if I wanted to do a fundraiser for YSU and Ursuline. He said, ‘If I put it together, will you come?’ And I said yes.”

Policy donated the wine and Miles staged the events and handled marketing. Several of the area’s top chefs, including Alberini, Marc Canzonetta of Bistro 1907, and Ottavio Musumeci of Station Square, prepared the food.

“I’ve known Carmen for 10 years,” Miles said. “He had been looking for a way to come back and make a contribution to Ursuline and YSU [to thank them] for his success.

A Night in Napa is the first charity event held at Steelite’s corporate showroom in the Commerce Building, Miles said. “We look at it as an asset to the community and we look forward to doing more events for charities.”

Among the attendees for the events throughout the evening were Anthony Cafaro Sr., retired president of the Cafaro Co., and Jim Tressel, president of Youngstown State University.

“It’s always a pleasure when Carmen can return to his hometown, and help the institutions that shaped him,” Cafaro said. “It’s a chance to get good people together for a good cause and show off this beautiful Steelite facility.”

Policy grew up in Youngstown’s Smokey Hollow neighborhood, where his introduction to family, food and wine began.

“As a boy in that Italian-American neighborhood, I would serve at 10:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday and then come home for the main meal at noon, where I was served a glass of wine,” he said. “You didn’t think of it as drinking, because it was a part of the meal. Then we’d watch the Browns’ game. When someone in the neighborhood got a TV, we’d watch it there.”

Policy last visited Youngstown six years ago, and it had been a lot longer than that when he last got a chance to ride around and look at the city. He was impressed with what he saw Tuesday afternoon in the downtown area.

“I didn’t know what I would find, but a lot of the blight has been removed,” he said. “It was interesting coming back and seeing all the positives.”

Pictured above: Anthony Cafaro Sr. meets with Carmen Policy during the “A Night in Napa” VIP wine tasting.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.