Marketplace: Gelato man promotes adult treat
Washington Von Sauerbronn is best known in Park City for his La Dolce Vita Gelato & Sorbets sold from a cart at farmers markets.
He’d like everyone to get to know him as the source for wine-infused ice cream.
Von Sauerbronn is the distributor for Mercer’s Wine Ice Cream for all the Western U.S. Mercer’s is an ice-cream manufacturer owned by a handful of family-run dairies near Boonville in up-state New York a little above Utica.
After working with the New York Wine and Grape Foundation to promote "made in New York" products, business development director Roxaina Hurlburt said she had the idea of combining their "fruits." Pouring wine over vanilla ice cream at festivals had always been popular.
"People went crazy for it," she said. "I said, ‘We’ve got to figure out how to bring these flavors together.’"
It’s not easy to infuse wine into ice cream. Anybody can reduce wine or vinegar into syrup and mix it in, Hurlburt said, but how do you retain the alcohol content, keep it the right consistency, and keep the butterfat content high without compromising flavor?
Well they did it, she said, and it’s five percent real wine. Von Sauerbronn believes it’s the perfect adult treat.
Michelle Eicher, co-owner of Bacchus Wine Bar on Main Street sells it and said it’s fantastic.
"It’s absolutely wonderful. Everybody loves it," she said.
At twice the price of other gourmet ice creams, Von Sauerbronn has to sell prospective clients on the uniqueness, flavor and high-quality of the Mercer’s product. Eicher said that as long as people understand what they’re getting, the price has been no problem.
It’s worth it, Von Sauerbronn said. But he’s also up to the task. For much of the past 15 years since he left a successful commercial photography career in Brazil to live in Utah, he’s been a food importer/exporter. Fluent in Portuguese, Italian, Spanish and English, he works to bring the best of all four places to one another.
"I call myself an international food broker," he said.
Why go from photography to food? He loves food. His father was a great cook and he thinks he’s pretty good himself.
"I don’t have work, I have a passion," Von Sauerbronn said.
Frequent visitors to Park City’s farmers markets have likely heard him singing to bring people to his gelato cart.
Mercer’s Wine Ice Cream can be found in select Park City businesses, including Bacchus, but Von Sauerbronn also sells it directly. It can be delivered packed in dry ice.
"Six flavors at your door," he said.
Mercer’s offers Ala Port with Ruby Port, Peach White Zinfandel blended with fresh peaches, Red Raspberry Chardonnay blended with raspberries, Royal White Riesling, Cherry Merlot with bing cherries and Chocolate Cabernet with bittersweet chocolate morsels.
The wine comes from one of America’s oldest vineyards started in 1839. In 2007 the ice cream won "Best New Product" at the Great American Dessert Expo and the 2008 American Masters of Taste.
Von Sauerbronn said he loves being in Utah. It’s the crossroads of the West so there’s no better place from which to launch a new product.
"I’m a micro-enterprise family business," he said. "I’m speaking from six years of expertise."
Washington Von Sauerbronn
Mercer’s Wine Ice Cream
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