Belgium’s Wijnhuis Merckx Makes Way For More Italian Wines to Add to their Intimate Collection

Wijnhuis Merckx to attend Wine Pleasures Workshop ItalyIt’s never too late to make a change, especially if change is going to revolutionize your business. This is a sentiment that Manu Meyers can certainly confirm to be true, as he and his wife made a change for the better upon buying Belgium wine importer, Wijnhuis Merckx. While most business owners think of upsizing and expansion as the only way to move forward, Manu shares his story of a different size of success with Wine Pleasures.

Since Manu and Wijnhuis Merckx will be attending our upcoming Buyer Meets Italian Cellar workshop in November, he also provides some insight on why workshops work for him and what Italian bottles would best fit in with his current collection in Belgium. 

Can you give us some background information on how Wijnhuis Merckx got started?

Wijnhuis Merckx to attend Wine Pleasures Workshop ItalyWijnhuis Merckx was started in 1965 as a subsidiary form a large Belgian importer of French wines.  This importer had several distributers of his wines in Belgium. Wijnhuis Merckx was mainly working with restaurants and had a limited number of wines in stock.In 2003, me and my wife bought the company and started to work independently.We extended the range of wines to other countries such as Italy, Spain, South Africa, Chili etc.  We also started to import directly from France and Italy.

As the restaurant business is not ideal to work with, and we had quite some competition from large groups, who are delivering lower quality wines at very low prices, we started last year in November with a new shop, mainly for the private customers.  This also means that we constantly have to add new wines to our portfolio.

What do you hope to gain from the upcoming Wine Pleasures workshop that you cannot get from large fair trade?

On the upcoming Wine Pleasures workshop, we hope to get in contact with smaller wineries, that are family owned, and that produce typical wines for their region.

We are not interested in companies that produce large ranges of wines, that can be found everywhere on the market.  As we will focus on the private customer and the real wine lovers, we have to distinguish ourselves from the supermarkets.

I see you already have a few Italian wines. What additions are you looking to make at the workshop in terms of price range, style, and region?

We want to add wines that are very typical for their region.  We are looking for wines in the basic price range, but also for wines in the higher price range, with a good ratio price versus quality.

I think we will be looking for regions like Alto Adige, Friuli, Veneto, and Southern regions.

You have many different tastings and classes at Wijnhuis Merckx. Why do you feel that it is important to hold these events in your community?

Wijnhuis Merckx to attend Wine Pleasures Workshop ItalyThe wines that we will focus on are not widely known by the common wine drinkers.  So it is very important that we “sell” our wines to our customers.  The only way we can do this is by organizing tastings and events, where our customers can come in and taste our wines.

It is also very important to introduce constantly new products, so that you can invite your customers to come to your shop and let them discover the new wines.

What direction do you think the Belgian wine industry will go in over the next few years? How do you intend on adapting to these changes?

Wijnhuis Merckx to attend Wine Pleasures Workshop ItalyThe evolution that we see in Belgium is that the consumer is no longer willing to pay a high price for a low or medium quality wine at the restaurant.  More and more, people join cooking clubs and organize dinners at home for their friends.  On these occasions they are searching for the ideal combination of food and wine.  That is where we as a specialized winehouse can make the difference.  These customers are willing to pay a certain price, if the product is correct, and they also want to have some kind of exclusive product that is not available at the supermarket.

That is why we want to specialize in very specific wines that are typical for a region.

Italian wine producers should make the clever move to sign up for the upcoming Buyer Meets Italian Cellar Workshop and set up a meeting with Manu Meyers to discuss a distribution future with Wijnhuis Merckx!

Le Senate – Marche’s best – kept secret!

Le Senate to participate in Wine Pleasures WorkshopPamela Brizzola is co-owner of Le Senate winery with husband Giulio Visi. Pamela takes the time to chat with us about the successful winery, which is located in the enchanting Marche region of east Italy. A dream of the couple was to produce fine wine which paid homage to the full-bodied, long finish which is characteristic of wines from France’s Bordeaux region – and  Le Senate certainly succeeded in this ambition. Read on to hear of the intriguing history behind the winery’s name, the charms of the Marche region, and the different wines which they produce from their superb terroir. Le Senate will be presenting their wines this year in Arezzo at our Buyer Meets Italian Cellar Workshop in the first week of November.

What is the meaning behind your name and your logo?

Le Senate to participate in Wine Pleasures WorkshopAs we love to say, Le Senate is a name imbued with history, tradition and terroir. Until the seventeenth century, it was custom in our region to divide the land around castles into senate, concentric bands, up until the perimeter of the city. Each band would specialise in certain crops: there would be a separate band for vegetables, vineyards, and olive gardens. Our winery’s name refers to that second senata, where the vineyards were grown. We are proud to honour that ancient custom of the land; the same land that, today, we work with love and respect.

Tell us about the terroir in Altidona and the Marche region.

Le Senate to participate in Wine Pleasures WorkshopLe Marche region is ‘Italy‘s best-kept secret’, at least according to the television adverts! But I can confirm that for once the advertising is true. Visitors to Le Marche will discover a leisured, easy way of life, a community of open, welcoming people, and the breathtaking landscape of beaches and dramatic mountains.

And if you visit Le Marche, you’ll have the chance to experience Le Senate and our unique wines. We are set apart by our Bordeaux-style wines, made from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. We have a great respect for our land, and our unique terroir has turned out to be perfect for cultivating these wines.

Our lands have been cultivated for wine since ancient times – as long ago as the first century AD, the vineyards and their wines were praised by Pliny the Elder. Today, that sense of history imbues the area. Our vines  stretch over a plateau overlooking the Adriatic sea and caressed by its breezes. Here, the silt and sand-based soil contains a layer of calcium carbonate concretions (cacinello, as they are locally known) which provides the perfect environment to ripen grapes.

What can you tell us about the kind of consumers who drink your wine?

Le Senate to participate in Wine Pleasures WorkshopWe want our clients and friends to speak for us and some of them have been saying:

“If you are looking for a visit to a local winery, a chance for a wine-tasting, and you’re tired of trudging around huge wineries which mass-produce their wine, then look no further, because Le Senate is the place to go! The delightful couple, Pamela and Giulio, who own this vineyard, are both wonderful and welcoming and take you on a personalized tour of the cantina and vineyard overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The tasting, under the shade of a lovely old barn, is accompanied by delicious salumi marchigiani (local charcuterie), cheeses, etc.. However, the main event is the wine itself! Giulio is passionate about his winemaking and the result is a quality red smooth fabulous Barbula wine. Can’t wait for the Cacinello wine to be ready next year!’

Overland Trade at Wine Pleasures WorkshopHow would you compare the workshop methodology at Wine Pleasures to a large-scale wine trade fair?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of both?

The workshops of Wine Pleasures allows buyers and producers to meet in a close and relaxed, but still professional, environment. Producers have the time to introduce their wineries and products in full detail, and to tell the stories behind each vintage and wine. Buyers have the chance to really get to know the wineries.

Which of your wines would suggest for a birthday party?

Le Senate to participate in Wine Pleasures WorkshopFull-bodied, smooth and incredibly sophisticated, our Cacinello is definitely the ideal companion for a birthday party, either as a gift, or to share with family and friends. It is a stellar pairing for grilled meat, braises, game, cold cuts and mature cheeses.

And for a lower-key event, Barbula is the perfect choice for barbeques and everyday meals.

If you are a wine importer and would like to attend the upcoming Workshop Buyer meets Italian Cellar (4-6 November 2013) as an invited buyer and meet Le Senate there are still places available!

Sofia Sagripanti

Terroir Wine Imports aims to fill niche markets with Wines of Italy at Wine Pleasures

Terroir Imports at Wine Pleasures WorkshopAfter great success at the Wine Pleasures Buyer Meets Italian Cellar 2012 workshop, Terroir Wine Imports of Ontario, Canada is coming back for more! With a focus on high quality wines from the most exceptional regions of production, Terroir still has quite a few specific gaps that they are anxious to fill with the best and brightest Italian bottles.

The current CEO of the company, Matthew Naranjo, graciously took the time to chat with us, sharing Terroir’s history, goals, and experiences.  We can’t wait to see him back at the workshop this November! 

Can you give us some background information on how Terroir Wine Imports got started?

The company was founded in Feb 2005. At the time I was 25 studying advertising in college and entering my final semester. I was also working full-time in a fine dining restaurant. In my final year I found myself becoming disinterested in advertising and I became more passionate by the world of wines, through learning at the restaurant. In hindsight, this was a great decision for me.

I notice that you attended a Wine Pleasure’s workshop last year. We look forward to having you back! Can you explain what you got out of the last workshop and what benefits this methodology has over large fair trade?

From the last workshop what I really learned most was a better comprehensive understanding of Italian wines. I have a good knowledge of the region from my studies with the International Wine Education Guild advanced program, but the best way to learn is by tasting and visiting the regions.

I prefer this type of event because it gives you time to discuss more in-depth about your and the suppliers expectations and realities, where a trade show is kind of the flirtatious speed date which is quite superficial and unproductive for the most part.

I see you already carry a few Italian wines. What Italian wine additions are you looking to make at the workshop in terms of price range, style, and region?

Terroir is looking for producers mainly from Tuscany, Piedmonte Veneto and Fruili with an excellent quality to price ratio, strong availability and awards or recognition from third parties like Wine Spectator, Decanter or Gambero Rosso. 

What particular niche do you fill in the Ontario wine market and what goals does Terroir Wine Imports have as they continue to grow?

Terroir fills various niches in the Ontario market. On the consignment side, which deals with restaurants we require less quantities of high quality product always with a good price point. This can also be said for our VINTAGES sales to the LCBO which deals with mid to high-end wines purchased by our government monopoly.

The goals for Terroir is to expand at a steady pace which we have been achieving every year by adding quality suppliers.

We also aim to be considered one of the best suppliers to the LCBO Vintages department and restaurants.

What do you believe is the best Italian wine pairing to be served with traditional lasagna? 

Mmmmm Lasagna one of my favorite Italian dishes. I would probably pick a nice Chianti or a Valpolicella.

Italian wine producers should make haste to sign up for the upcoming Wine Pleasures Workshop Buyer meets Italian Cellar in November and set up a meeting with Mathew to discuss  a distribution future with Terroir Wine Imports.

Avide – blending hallowed Sicilian tradition with modern innovation

Avide to participate in Wine Pleasures WorkshopMarco Calcaterra from Avide chats to us about their Sicilian wines, and recounts the history of the century-and-half-old winery, which has flourished from its very beginnings. He explains that the winery‘s values of honouring tradition and aiming for the highest technical excellence have led to their continued success. Avide is another winery which looks forward to soon attending the Wine Pleasures Buyer Meets Italian Cellar Workshop of 2013.

When was Avide born?

Avide is a family winery which was founded in 1882. It was then called Vino Demostene, and was among the earliest wineries in the area, which in the modern age has become the surrounds of the city of Ragusa, where Avide still thrives to this day.

What makes your wines special?

Avide to participate in Wine Pleasures Workshop Tradition is key. We’ve collaborated with the same wine-maker for twenty-five years. For generation after generation, our workers have remained loyal to us. Another secret is the vinification of our own grapes. Every one of our grapes is plucked from the 68 hectares of vineyards on our property. We use only the best technology  in the wine-making process. In other words, we have continued the philosophy of our ancestors, to endeavour to produce only the highest-quality wine. Our wines ferment in stainless steel tanks and age in oak barrels for at least 36 months.

Tell us about the Cerasuolo di Vittoria wine region.

frappato1This is an area that comprises Ragusa and few municipalities around Catania and Siracusa. Currently, Cerasuolo di Vittoria is the only DOCG present in Sicily. It is characterized by the Frappato grape, which lends a gentle freshness which is very difficult to find in other Sicilian wines.

If blended with Nero d’Avola, the result is a wine with a pleasurable balance in structure and in flavour, and great potential for ageing in bottles.

How the proximity to a volcanic territory does affect the soil?

We are quite far from Etna; but nearer to another volcano, named Monte Lauro.. This means the wines obtained from our soil have good acidity and are rich in minerals.

The soil is usually red and sandy, or it may have medium levels of clay, and a sub-soil of vertisol. Clay absorbs water easily in winter and retains this water in summer, and this moisture allows our vines to grow very strong and powerful.

We see you are interested in exporting more of your wines to Switzerland. Which of your wines do you think would best suit the Swiss market and why?

Surely our best reds, such as Barocco, Carati and Sigillo; during our visits to the country we have come to learn that Swiss customers have a great appreciation of red wine.

Giving your presence at BMIC 2012 Umbria, how would you compare the workshop methodology at Wine Pleasures to a large-scale wine trade fair? What are the strengths and weaknesses of both?

Overland Trade at a Wine Pleasures WorkshopI much prefer Wine Pleasure’s workshops, because of the relationships one can establish with buyers. There are only one or two large-scale wine fairs in which we plan to participate. We will attend VinExpo in Bordeaux, and perhaps Prowein, mainly to increase awareness of our company and make our name known.

If you are a wine importer and would like to attend the upcoming Workshop Buyer meets Italian Cellar (4-6 November 2013) as an invited buyer and meet Avide, there are still places available!

Baldetti winery – wine grown from a long and fertile relationship

Baldetti to participate at Wine Pleasures Workshop ItalyWe exchange a few words with Giulia Gepponi from the Baldetti winery, whose wines are the yield of the harmonious fifty-year relationship between the Baldettis and their land in Cortona, Tuscany. Giulia shares the natural secret behind Baldetti’s outstanding product, and those elusive qualities which set their wine apart from the rest. Baldetti are gearing up in anticipation for the Buyer meets Italian Cellar, which will take place between 4th and 6th November 2013 in Arezzo. 

Baldetti to participate at Wine Pleasures Workshop ItalyHow long has your company been involved in winemaking? 

The Baldetti family has owned vineyards in Cortona, south-east of Tuscany, since the 1960s. Today, Alfonso Baldetti and his family manage the winery, and supported by a strong team, dedicate themselves to every stage of the wine-making process, beginning with the grape harvest. For Baldetti winery, making wine is both a tradition and a profession.

What makes your wine stand out? 

We admit we’ve profited from good fortune: our wines are naturally distinguished by our great terroir. And we believe that the real work takes place in the vineyard, not the cellar. Each of our wines is different, but on tasting you will notice that all our wines share two qualities: freshness and great energy. This is true not only of the sparkling and the white, but also the red: the tannins combine gracefully with the wine’s acidity, which produces a beautiful result.

Baldetti to participate at Wine Pleasures Workshop ItalyWhat can you tell us about the kind of consumers who drink your wine? 

We have a very wide range of customers, because we offer such a richly varied selection of wines. For example, we produce a Brut sparkling wine, Baldo, which is the perfect aperitif. Then there is our white wine, Chagrè, which  is very popular because although it is a slightly eclectic wine, it happens to pair perfectly with every type of food. Marius (Sangiovese 100%) and Crano (Syrah 100%) are also strong performers with our customers. Their freshness is really characteristic of our winery, and these two tend to be favourites with our long-term clients.

How would you compare the workshop methodology at Wine Pleasures to a large-scale wine trade fair? What are the strengths and weaknesses of both? 

Wine Pleasures WorkshopsWell, this is actually our first time at a Wine Pleasures Workshop, so our opinion is perhaps uninformed. But from what we’ve experienced of Wine Pleasures, it seems a very professional organisation, with an impressive knowledge of the wine industry. We’re very enthusiastic about the prospect of a shared dinner on the first day – we believe this is the perfect, relaxed environment to get to know our buyers. It seems Wine Pleasures shares our belief that it is the human element which is the keystone for success in any kind of business.

After a long day in the office and vineyard, which wine helps you to relax? 

Baldetti to participate at Wine Pleasures Workshop ItalyIt depends on your mood, the day, and of course the season! Now that it’s summer, and very sunny and hot in Tuscany, we would recommend Baldo, our sparkling brut, or our white, Chagrè – both are perfect for a summer’s evening. But, come November, as the evenings become crisper and cooler, we would suggest our Syrah, Crano, or our dessert wine, Vin Santo Leopoldo.

If you are a wine importer and would like to attend the upcoming Workshop Buyer meets Italian Cellar (4-6 November 2013) as an invited buyer and meet Baldetti there are still places available!

Piedmont’s La Gironda – must taste wines at Wine Pleasures Workshop

LA GIRONDA - Piedmont to participate in Wine Pleasures WorkshopSusanna Galandrino, shares with us the history and star products of her precocious, award-winnng winery, La Gironda, located in the provence of Asti, Italy. Although it is only a little older than a decade, the wines of La Gironda have already attracted much acclaim. Susanna and her husband work full-time on the ecologically-friendly winery to produce their multi-award-winning wine. The winery will soon participate in the Workshop Buyer meets Italian Cellar 4-6 November (BMIC).Susanna tells us of the extremely positive experience she has had with Wine Pleasures Workshops which has led her to eagerly anticipate this year’s BMIC event.

LA GIRONDA - Piedmont to participate in Wine Pleasures WorkshopHow long has La Gironda been producing wines? My grandparents owned vineyards, but they simply sold the grapes. We only recently started to produce and bottle wines, in 2000.

What makes your wines stand out? The winery is situated in Nizza Monferrato, and my wines are truly a product of the unique terroir of the area. Our area is best-known for the Barbera d’Asti DOCG. In fact, it is only here, in Nizza and the seventeen surrounding villages, that we can produce Nizza, the pride of the Barbera d’Asti. Our terroir is also renowned for its aromatic wines, such as Moscato d’Asti DOCG and Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG.

Tell us more about a special awarded wine you produce: The Moscato d’Asti. While Barbera d’Asti is our most important production, we also produce a great Moscato d’Asti. In April 2013, we were awarded the Wine Enthusiast Awards‘ “Top 100 Best Buy 2012” for our Moscato d’Asti!

Wine Pleasures WorkshopHaving participated to BMIC 2012 Umbria last year, how would you compare the workshop methodology at Wine Pleasures to a large-scale wine trade fair?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of both? We exhibit to large-scale wine fairs too, such as Vinitaly and Vinexpo, but personally I prefer the workshop methodology of Wine Pleasures. In a Wine Pleasures workshop I can be sure that the buyers I meet are exactly what I’m looking for and I in turn am what the buyers are looking for, thanks to the information we are given about one another prior to meeting. Moreover, we are in the most favourable conditions for buyers to experience the best qualities of my wine. I have time to speak in-depth about my winery and wines, and to get to know the people sitting before me. During this meeting, our relationship immediately becomes much more personal and intimate than would be possible at the brief meetings that take place at a large-scale wine trade fair.

If you are a wine importer and would like to attend the upcoming Workshop Buyer meets Italian Cellar (4-6 November 2013) as an invited buyer, with the opportunity to meet La Gironda, there are still places available!

Piedmont & Asti’s Bocchino return for Wine Pleasures Workshop, Arezzo

Bocchino toast to Wine Pleasures Workshop Buyer meets Italain CellarThe Bocchino winery is located in the Astigliano (Asti), Piedmont – well known for the Sparkling Wine Moscato d’Asti. In Canelli, brother and sister  Daniele and Annalisa  are leading a successful wine business which boasts 10 hectares. Annalisa chatted to us  about the challenges of a good export strategy and good customer service in the wine trade. Bocchino has previously attended the Wine Pleasures Workshop Buyer meets Italian Cellar 2012, Assisi and has been impressed by the event effectiveness and ambience. Annalisa is ready for BMIC 2013 in Arezzo.  

Bocchino Winery participate at Wine Pleasures Workshop

How long have you been making wine?

Bocchino to particpate at Wine PleasuresWe make wine for about 200 years (we make wine since generations). The winery is managed by Giuseppe and his family since 1974, and by Annalisa and her family since 2009. 

What can you tell us about the kind of consumers who drink your wine?

The clients that use to drink our wines are consumers which care for the quality of the product, those who look for typical wines of our region (Piedmont) and that look for wines that reflect the terroir the wines come from. 

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in getting your wines into the hands of consumers? 

The main challenges we have faced is to make some consumers that had a standard idea of the wines understand the quality and the traditional features of our wines. However, usually, the customer feels the difference when tasting our wines,

Having participated to BMIC 2012 Umbria, how would you compare the workshop methodology at Wine Pleasures to a large-scale wine trade fair? What are the strengths and weaknesses of both? 

Besay at Workshop Buyer meets Spanish Cellar 2011BMIC has good organisational skills. The difference between BMIC and the other workshops is that the winery is left alone when it comes to the organisation of a meeting with a buyer or an importer. On the one hand this is a good thing because this way you can choose the buyers you want to meet, but from the other hand, the winery is left with a job which is time-consuming. .

Another great aspect of Wine Pleasure’s workshop is that during BMIC there is more flexibility in the appointments schedules, there is time to chat, discuss and think.

If you are a wine importer and would like to meet Annalisa of Bocchino  then you may be eligible to attend the Workshop BMIC as an invited buyer.

Sofia Sagripanti

Florida Importer seeks hidden gem at Wine Pleasures Workshop, Italy

World of wide guideWorld of Wine Guide, a leading importer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the United States, sets themselves apart from many other wine importers in a very interesting and, in fact, interested way: not only do they strive to sell to their customers, but they also seek to educate their customers on the many styles, regions, processes, and various complexities of wine production and consumption. This aspect of World of Wine Guide’s business has clearly affected their popularity as importers and helped them to gain much success and respect in the industry.

Rick Musica back for Wine PleasuresUpon interviewing Rick Musica, the president and founder of World of Wine Guide, about the upcoming Buyer Meets Italian Cellar Workshop that he is attending this coming November, it is obvious that the passion he has for acquiring and sharing knowledge is in his genes. While World of Wine Guide already has an extensive selection of wine from all over the world, including quite a few from Italy that they picked up during the 2012 Buyer Meets Italian Cellar workshop, they are extremely particular about what wineries they work with.

In our interview, Rick reveals what is important to him in this selection and what Italian gems he hopes to find at the upcoming 2013 workshop.

I see that you recently founded World of Wine Guide in 2011. Can you provide some background on how the company got started?

My passion for wine goes way back. My father was in the wine business (sales) and I grew up around wine. I traveled extensively and spent a lot of time around wineries and vineyards. I worked with a group that was in the forefront of Importing Spanish Wines to the USA.

They were extremely knowledgeable, professional, and very good at what they did. Over the years, they continuously tried to get me to go out on my own and start my own company. I resisted at first. Then one day they again told me I was ready and that they were getting ready to retire and really enjoy life.

They were kind enough to leave me with one very good client and a lot of knowledge! So, I took some time, realized that I did love what I do, and “took the plunge”…  I have yet to look back…

Winemakers are some of my very favorite people. They work so hard. But the rewards show up in every bottle. I also realized that the small family run wineries were being bought up by the giant corporations and were slowly disappearing.  I try to focus on smaller family run wineries with a history of producing quality and affordable wines. There is still room for a few more success stories!

I’ve noticed from both your website and our communication that education is very important to you in your business. Can you explain why you feel it is important to share the wisdom of wine and how it benefits your company?

Wine can be very intimidating at first! It doesn’t have to be, nor should it be. Many people are fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes. All they see is the finished product. Our company has two separate websites that really feed off each other. World of Wine Guide ( is a tool for the consumer to learn more about where the wines comes from, the process of growing , making, packaging, etc and we try to get the consumer excited about the wines they already love or about to try for the first time. Wine tourism has exploded over the past decade and many of the Wine Regions around the world are trying to make the experience more tourist friendly. Our goal is to offer the consumer some “insight” into the region and highlight the smaller family run wineries that make wine so charming. We go behind the scenes and allow the consumer to “virtually” visit a region and the winery and get to know a little bit more about what they are drinking and hopefully enjoying.

Every winery has a story(or at least it should have!) and it is important to capture that story and tell that story. Each bottle should say something about the winery, the family, the region. You want to get the consumer excited and curious about what they are drinking!

Our Imports Website is just about finished and it contains more technical information about the wines in our portfolio and where they are available for sale. We try to keep that one simpler because people are mainly looking for information about the wines.

We do more tastings than most of our competitors simply because tastings allow the consumer to try a wine before they buy it. It’s that easy. The consumer likes a “pretty” or “interesting” label but without having tasted the wines, they are more likely inclined to buy the wine that costs less. That is just a fact! So, even though I may have a wine that costs $15.99 and is amazing, without them knowing that by tasting it, they are more likely to choose the one that costs $9.99. It may be good, but, it doesn’t come close in comparison.

By hosting tastings we allow the consumer to try our wines and compare them to their favorites. While it ultimately costs our company more money, it also helps us make new customers because they begin to like our wines better, and even though they may cost a bit more, they become comfortable with the wines and they become more loyal and are eager to share their new “gems” with their friends.  Retailers love our tastings because we get a lot of foot traffic in the store and we help then sell a lot of wine!

Having an ample supply of samples to do this is very important. Ultimately, done correctly, samples generate sales.

What do you believe are the benefits of the Wine Pleasures workshop methodology as opposed to large fair trade?

The ability to sit down “One on One” with a winery is very appealing. The small setting allows the winery to focus on its wines instead of fancy setups. While large fairs have their place, I enjoy the ability to spend additional time during the workshops getting to know the folks that I may partner with. It is much easier to develop a relationship during Wine Pleasures events because even though you have a pretty full agenda and your time is well managed, there is still some “down time” to have more detailed discussions and try to formulate a plan for success.

I see you attended our workshop last year as well. From your experience, what are you hoping to gain from the workshop and how do Italian wines fit into your market?

After attending the Buyer Meets Italian Cellar in 2012, I came away with a much better appreciation of Umbrian wines. Ultimately, it led to a partnership and several Gold Medal winning wines. Many of the wineries had little or no US representation. It is extremely challenging but also very rewarding(when successful!) to introduce a brand. Our network of Importers in other states allows us to share some of our wines in the hopes of expanding sales for the wineries. I hope to expand on our current portfolio of Italian wines and find another “hidden gem”…..

Italian wines are making a comeback , slowly, in Florida. Programs like Slow Wine and Simply Italian have helped make Italian wines “chic” again in Florida. We can use all the help we can get!

While I see that you already distribute a few Italian wines, are there any particular gaps that you are looking to fill as far as style, price, and region are concerned?

Our “mission” this time at Wine Pleasures is to meet with some of the wineries that we were interested in last year and see if there may be some room in out 2014 portfolio. We are also looking for that “hidden gem” that I know will be there.

The US consumer is a creature of habit. They tend to stick with what they know. Our mission, albeit a very difficult one, is to get them to open up and not just try, but embrace indigenous varietals as well as showcase ALL of what Italy has to offer.

I see that you are based in Florida in the United States! What is your favorite wine to relax with at the end of a hot and humid Florida day?

In the summer time in Florida, it is not unusual for retailers/restaurants to “flip” their wine lists. Where they may have 60% Red and 40% white. sparkling, etc, in the summer months, those numbers generally are reversed. For me, I enjoy a nice crisp refreshing Sparkling(especially Rose) and my favorite, a Cascina Del Pozzo Roero Arneis!

A Wine Pleasures WorkshopItalian wine producers should make haste to sign up for the upcoming Wine Pleasures Workshop Buyer meets Italian Cellar in November and set up a meeting with Rick Musica to discuss  a distribution future with World of Wine Guide.

Dreams come true for Tunia trio

Tunia particpate in Wine Pleasures WorkshopTunia is a well thought-out dish whose ingredients are simple and yet successful: three friends, skills and love for the land. In 2008, Chiara Innocenti and the brothers Francesca and Andrea di Benedetto started to make wine with 25 hectares of vineyards in Civitavella Val Di Chiana, Arezzo. Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon for the reds, Vermentino and Trebbiano for the whites: all grapes are organically certified at Tunia. A dream crafted by three young and smart brains is today a vivacious business reality. Chiara takes a moment to explain to us the choices of the company and the challenges that young graduates face when entering the wine Industry in Italy. Tunia will attend together with many more boutique wine producers the Wine Pleasures’ Workshop Buyer meets Italian Cellar (BMIC) which will take place on 4th -6th November 2013 in Arezzo. Wineries and buyers will meet in a one to one business setting to discuss import- export posibilities..

Tunia particpate in Wine Pleasures WorkshopWhat does Tunia mean?

When choosing our company’s name we wanted something that could pay tribute to the territory that welcomed us: the land of Chimera and Minerva (the two Greek goddesses), and so we chose the name Tunia , who was actually one of the most important goddesses of the Etruscan pantheon and, by coincidence (!) watched over the ripening of fruits.  

Why did you decide to practice organic farming?

Tunia particpate in Wine Pleasures WorkshopWhen we go shopping we usually buy organic products; so when we were setting up Tunia it was, hence, a natural choice to opt for environmentally friendly farming. We farmed Tunia with organic methods since the early beginning and we tried to minimize the environmental impact of our work.

But this was not enough: even products based on copper and sulphur (allowed in organic farming) have unpleasant side effects.Copper has a great environmental impact: it is a heavy metal and it accumulates in the ground leading to an overall decrease of the soil’s biological activity. Sulphur, on the other hand, is toxic for all insects, including those that are useful in the vineyard, and can interfere with the fermentation of the must.

For all these reasons – and because many of the products used in organic farming contain synthetic additives (which seems a bit contradictory) – we decided to minimize treatments and to use the most environmentally friendly substances in the circumstances where those can’t be avoided.

However, in order to do this, you must create a healthier “vineyard environment “, that is able to better react to pests attacks. A vineyard is a bit like a person being run down or in good health when a flu is around: if overall you feel good and have a good immune system , you will probably get away with the cold!

Most of the wineries are long established family business. Explain how different your story is from this stereotype.

Tunia particpate in Wine Pleasures WorkshopIn fact in our case there was no family business to be carried out … Tunia was founded in 2008 thanks to the combined enthusiasm of three friends!

At the end, it all happened more quickly than we had foreseen.  All we had to do was to decide that our destination was Arezzo Province and in a very short time we found our ideal site. And so Tunia was born.

To be honest, the planning period gave us sleepless nights: when I was still living in Milan and Francesca was in Sassari (Sardinia) we used to meet – either at her home or mine –trying to understand whether the dream of creating a place of our own could become a reality. Thank God, Andrea came along and helped us to set down some numbers, and it was then that we realized things did not exactly add up, but it was worth a try! In a flash things were already happening.

Usually, when you are thinking of starting out from scratch, your family or friends step in to make you change your mind; luckily, it didn’t happen to us and, on the contrary, my friends became my business partners and we took the big step together!

Giving that your company is led by young people, what kind of challenges do you think young graduates entering the wine industry would encounter in Italy?

Tunia particpate in Wine Pleasures WorkshopThe Italian wine trade scenario is much diversified, both in terms of quantities produced and of production philosophies. We have taken a very precise choice that I can explain briefly as follows: a small enterprise which depends exclusively on our own work.

If young people decide to take this road, they must be aware that, as our grandparents used to say, you can’t work the ground standing up (you need to bend down), you have to work it when outside is cold (and when it’s too hot as well), boxes full of grapes are too heavy and that’s not enough…in order to make the company work you need to be flexible and spend full days in front of a laptop, learn languages, develop business, marketing and sales skills and spend hours and hours in a queue inside public offices and be patient with Italian bureaucracy and complex legislation. In summary, the very first challenge is to be aware of what leading your own enterprise means that Is being a 360° manager.

Italian Wine workshopIt is good to know that although the difficult Italian economic landscape, a group of talented young brains has succeeded in producing high quality wines. We are sure Tunia will enjoy our the upcoming Workshop Buyer meets Italian Cellar and will find many export opportunities.

If you are a wine importer and interested in organic wines then you may be eligible to attend the Workshop BMIC as an invited buyer.

Sofia Sagripanti

Cascina del Pozzo`s red wines reign supreme in Italy’s Piedmont region.

Cascina del Pozzo back for another Wine Pleasures Workshop Cascina del Pozzo is located in Castellinaldo, in the Piedmont wine region. It is a modern family winery with a great team of young people. With Cascina del Pozzo confirmed as a participant at the upcoming Workshop Buyer meet Italian Cellar (Arezzo 4th-6th November 2013), we took time out to ask  Giorgio Meraviglia a few questions about the winery and  the two grape varieties, Barbera and Nebbiolo. 

How long has Cascina del Pozzo been producing wines?

Our adventure started out 1973 we started to bottle the first wines made with our grapes, before we used to grow vines and sell the grapes.

Tell us about your local grapes Barbera and Nebbiolo.

Cascina del Pozzo back for another Wine Pleasures Workshop The Piedmont region is home to 45 Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) and 12 Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG).  Cascina del Pozzo produces 10 different wines, DOC and DOCG of the Alba and Roero denominations.

Half of the wine produced in Piedmont comes from Barbera grapes, either in purity or as a blend. Among the many Barberas, the one from Alba is no doubt the best. The wines made with this grape are usually sharply acidic but pleasantly cherry and plum fruited. Cascina del Pozzo produces two different Barbera d’Alba, Fossamara (from the vineyard’s name), made from the youngest vines and aged only in stainless steel, and Lucrezia (from the youngest owner’s doughter’s name) made from the oldest Barbera vines (up to 60 years old) and aged for 12 months  in oak barrels.

Cascina del Pozzo back for another Wine Pleasures Workshop Nebbiolo grape, responsible for many of Italy’s most important wines, takes its name from the word “nebbia” – fog- due either to the particular dusty frosted appearance typical with grapes of this variety, or from its late ripening characteristics. It is also a vine deeply bound to its territory, in fact when planted in other territories, it loses its best characteristics, austerity and aristocracy. Our Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC has a delicate fragrance of raspberry, strawberry, cherry, spices with undertone of liquorice. The taste is full and correctly tannic. Nebbiolo grape is also used to produce Roero DOCG, a red wine quite similar to the most famous Barolo and Barbaresco made from the same grape (100% Nebbiolo) in a different area of the same region. Roero is younger than Barbaresco and Barolo, with only 12 months of ageing in oak barrels, but intense and full bodied.

What makes your sparkling wines great?

Cascina del Pozzo back for another Wine Pleasures Workshop The greatness of our sparkling wine comes from the blend of local grapes we have selected for it: 50% Arneis, 25% Chardonnay and 25% Nebbiolo (in white); this perfect blend makes our sparkling wine delicate and elegant, suitable as aperitif but also to be drunk during the meal, especially with first courses and fish.

We see you are interested in exporting more of your wines to Asia. Which of your wines do you think would best suit the Asian market and why.

For sure all our red wines, Barbera and Nebbiolo based: Barbera d’Alba, Nebbiolo d’Alba and Roero. We have already had some experience in the Asian market with our wines, and found that they are very much appreciated by consumers.

Given your attendance to last year BMIC 2012 Umbria, how would you compare the workshop methodology at Wine Pleasures to a large-scale wine trade fair?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of both?

V Trading at Wine Pleasures WorkshopWe have been at Workshop 2012 in Assisi, for the first time. The workshop methodology compared to a large-scale wine trade fair has the advantage of concentrate in less than 2 days all the meetings. With dinners and lunches, we had the opportunity to meet also the other professionals, taste the wines, and also talk to and know in depth the people we have met during the day.

We also found that the professionals attending the workshop were coming from all over the world. This gives the opportunity, especially to small wineries like ours, to explore new market areas of the world that we usually don’t have the opportunity to visit or to be in contact with so easily.

Cathleen Lamprecht at Wine Pleasures WorkshopWe have found out that the environment created by Wine Pleasures’s workshop are unique and can really make wine boutique connect with importers. Cascina del Pozzo will not regret to have attended Buyer meet Italian cellar for the second time.

If you are a wine importer and would like to attend the upcoming Workshop Buyer meets Italian Cellar (4-6 November 2013) as an invited buyer and meet Cascina del Pozzo there are still places available!

Sofia Sagripanti