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Basque Country Imports
Basque Country Imports
In an exclusive interview for eitb.com, Justo Sarria, owner of Basque Country Imports, talks about the economic crisis and his life far from the Basque Country.
Justo Sarria Justo Sarria. Photo: EITB Some predominant stereotypes that describe the life of Basques who emigrated to America in the early 1900s and later in the 1960s is that they left the Basque Country because it was hard to find a job. Their early life in the United States was really hard and it usually was more difficult for men to learn English, as they spent long periods of time on their own looking after the sheep on the mountains. Unlike all those men and women, Justo Sarria, born in the fishing village of Lekeitio, did not leave the Basque Country in search of a job. "My father was the owner of two companies. I was born in a wealthy family. There were seven cars in Lekeitio and my father had one of those seven cars", Justo remembers in an exclusive interview for eitb.com in Boise. Justo left the Basque Country at the age of 18 fleeing the political situation of the Franco regime and, unlike most of the Basques, his arrival there was not hard as he had some relatives in Boise who owned a ranch by the time he got there and he even had a tutor at home to learn English. Since then, the standard of living of the Basques in Boise has improved 500 percent, Justo reckons. There are not Basque sheepherders now. Most of them took another job, so did Justo. He was working for American Natural Resources, a renewable energy company, for 27 years. Then, in 1990, he decided it was time for a change. Despite his complete lack of experience as an importer, Justo created Basque Country Imports, a business that supplies local restaurants and distributes traditional Basque foods in the Northwest of the United States. Thanks to Justo, many American Basques can cook with piquillo peppers from the Basque Country, drink Rioja wine and get other traditional products such as cider, Idiazabal cheese, anchovies and sardines. His first product was Faustino wine, with whom he signed an exclusivity agreement that lasted 11 years and helped Basque Country Imports settle down. Although in general his business has gone well, Justo does not forget that there have also been some difficult times. "We lost Faustino after 11 years and then we started to bring wine from other countries such as Chile, Argentina, France and Italy", Justo remembers. The economic situation is also affecting Justo's business, more than the current dollar-euro exchange rate. "In the past, you went to Ketchum and took a 14 dollar wine and they did not want it. They wanted a 25, 30 or 35 dollar wine. Nowadays, they want 6 dollar wines", Justo explains. Basque language Justo misses the Basque Country and goes back at least once a year. However, he recognizes he could not go back there for good. "Basque weather kills me", he says. At home, only Basque is spoken and both his son Edu and Amaya, born in Boise, speak Basque. For Justo, the essence of being Basque is to speak Euskera, the Basque language. "A nation looses its identity when its inhabitants do not speak their mother language", Justo adds. "There are parents here in Boise who haven't taught Basque to their children, not even Spanish. Their mother tongue is Basque but they talk to to their sons and daughters in English", Justo complains. I am a Basque born in Boise'", Justo remembers. He was also among those who organized the day of the Basque homeland in Boise for the first time. "People from all over the western United States came to Boise. The Basque flag was flying in the Capitol building. It was something incredible", Justo says with pride.
Justo Sarria, owner of Basque Country Imports gives us his five wines to try at the Basque Winefest, which benefits the the Basque Museum and Cultural Center exhibits and educational programs. | GO...More than 100 wines will flow at the Basque WineFest on Friday, including five briefly reviewed here by wine importer Justo SarriaTo get the scoop on Basque wines you'd enjoy, we asked Justo Sarria, owner of Basque Country Imports in Boise to lend his expertise.His company brings more than 600 wines to the United States from Spain, South America and other parts of the world.Sarria will pour 14 wines during the festival, many of them from the Korta Winery, a Basque-owned Wine company in Curico, Chile, one of the best Chilean winegrowing regions.Chilean winemakers took the grape with them because they thought it was merlot, Sarria said.Korta Syrah is a very nice wine, Sarria said."This is a very elegant wine," Sarria said.
Justo Sarria, who founded Basque Country Imports many years ago, is a first-generation Boise Basque.In Idaho, 7,000 miles from Euskadi, you,re never far from home.
In an exclusive interview for eitb.com, Justo Sarria, owner of Basque Country Imports, talks about the economic crisis and his life far from the Basque Country. (Read more)
"Until about 25 years ago, all of the wine made in the Basque country was consumed in the Basque country," says Justo Sarria, owner of Boise's Basque Country Imports.He started importing Spanish and Basque wines in 1991, but they didn't catch on with the mainstream population until about five years ago.They are wines that surprise, he says, from their fresh character to their affordable prices.Sarria helped start this event seven years ago when he was president of the Basque Museum board.His involvement in the wine business made it a natural fit.Sarria will pour a large selection, along with wines from California, Argentina, South Africa and Oregon.Many Spanish wines are made with tempranillo grapes.