By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jul 23, 2011 at 5:03 AM

Local wine guru and advanced sommelier Toni Johnson begins her latest round of wine classes this week at the Capital Grille, 310 W. Wisconsin Ave., where she is currently sommelier.

The first event, Saturday, July 23 at 3:30 p.m., is an intro the restaurant's Generous Pour Wine Event summer wine event, led by Johnson.

There will be a tasting of six international wines that Capital Grille is pouring during its eight-week event (which runs through Sept. 4 and allows guests to enjoy as many of the nine wines on the list as they'd like for only $25 per person with dinner):

Marquis de la Tour sparkling Brut from the Loire, France; La Cana Albarino from Rias Baixas Spain; Freemark Abbey "Bosche Vineyard" Cabernet Napa California; Conte Brandolini Vistora Merlot, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy; Byron Pinto Noir Santa Barbara Calif.; and R.L. Buller & Sons "The Portly Gentleman" Tawney NV dessert wine, Rutherglen Victoria, Australia.

Johnson says the first round of three classes was a big success.

"The first three months of classes sold out in about three days," says Johnson. "We had to add a second day and that sold out just as fast. All three classes had many repeat guests and I had great response to them all."

Johnson worked to ensure that those attending the classes would learn not only about the "old world" wine regions like Italy, France and California.

"I also poured wines from 'non-traditional' wine regions like South Africa, Austria, Spain and Washington State," Johnson says. "A common refrain was, 'I actually learned something today!'"

The two other events in this three-month run include:

Another focus on Generous Pour at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20, but with some different wines to taste.

The list for this one includes Marquis de la Tour sparkling Brut; Freemark Abbey "Bosche Vineyard" Cabernet; R.L. Buller & Sons "The Portly Gentleman" Tawney NV dessert wine; Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay "Belle Terre Vineyard," Alexander Valley, Sonoma, Calif.; Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, Chalk Hill, Sonoma, Calif.; and Tarima Monastrell, Alicante, Spain.

The Tarima Monastrell from Alicante, Spain – the first vintage was 2009 – is a Capital Grille exclusive for the initial release.

Finally, Johnson will focus on red and white wines that will enhance autumn cuisine for the event on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 3:30 p.m.

She is still seeking out the perfect wines for that event, so those will be named later.

Proceeds from all three events – which cost $20 each – benefit the AIDS Resource Center.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.