I really believe that, like grapevines, who we are is ultimately the result of the constant interaction between our innate qualities and the environment in which we grow: I was born in New York City and I grew up in Palermo (Sicily), in a Family that has taught me Entrepreneurship as way of life in which hard work, continuous learning and self-improvement are daily activities.
Thanks to my Family, I have had the opportunity to be exposed to both cultures, American and Italian, and I committed myself to absorb the best that they both have to offer.
I moved my first steps in Italian Wine back in 1997 when I attended my first Vinitaly as “cellar rat” and “glasses washer” at my Uncle Leonardo’s Winebow. Thanks to that first experience, I was introduced to iconic producers like Bruno Giacosa, Gianfranco Soldera, Emidio Pepe, Roberto Voerzio and many others. I guess those wines worked some kind of magic on me, as I decided to spend all my following college summers interning at Winebow, and after those, to officially join the Company in 2003, starting from the Warehouse, as the assistant to the VP of Operations. In the following 13 years, I had the opportunity to work in various positions, learning every aspect of the National Import and Distribution business, from Brand and Portfolio Management to Sales Management and Marketing. In 2008, I decided to strengthen my business knowledge and managerial skills, enrolling and completing the MBA program at Fordham University, while managing a team of 6 sales-reps in Westchester and Queens. It has been an amazing learning experience, for which I will always be grateful.
Fast forward to 2017, a year full of new developments and change: in February, together with Ludovico Bongini, a Cross-Border M & A lawyer, and with the patronage the Italian Trade Agency (ICE), I co-authored "Il Mercato Del Vino Negli USA" (published by Diacron), a book concerning the best practices for Italian wineries wishing to export to the US. In April, the desire to go back to the classroom led me to attend Vinitaly International Academy’s course with Ian D'Agata and Stevie Kim, becoming an Italian Wine Ambassador. In May 2017, my dedication to the native grapes of Italy and to Italian wines eventually evolved into my new business venture as I founded “Selezioni Varietali” an Import & Market Management Agency.
I founded my Agency with the intention to combine my knowledge of the US Market and experience in managing distribution networks with my commitment to the native grapes of Italy, thus offering to my Wineries a novel approach to the distribution and promotion of their wines.
It is therefore a great pleasure to introduce you to the Vintners that I have personally selected and which I am proud to represent in the USA: thanks to these talented and committed winemakers, I was able to assemble my very own Portfolio of Italian native and traditional grape varieties, my “Selezioni Varietali”.
Silvia Barbaglia decided to follow her father's footsteps in 1999, when her family renovated their historical winery in Cavallirio, in the Boca DOC appellation in Alto Piemonte. Representing the third generation of Barbaglia winemakers, Silvia pledged to renew her Family’s commitment to the native grapes of this area: Nebbiolo, Vespolina, Croatina, Uva Rara and Erbaluce “Greco Novarese”. Since the very first day, Silvia has worked side by side with her father Sergio to learn all the different aspects of their work, and most importantly, the differences among the various grape varieties they cultivate. Today, with the assistance of her father Sergio, Silvia runs the winery, working both in the vineyards and in the cellar. Her holistic approach allows her to infuse her precise, focused and delicious wines with the passion, knowledge and respect she nurtures for her land and vines.
Cantina della Volta is the brain-child of Christian Bellei, a fourth generation winemaker with an incredible passion for Methode Champenois wines. Backed and supported by a group of close friends, Bellei reopened Cantina della Volta in Bomporto (Modena) in 2010, on what used to be the old site of his family's winery in 1920, with a simple and crystal clear objective: craft the finest Metodo Classico Lambruscos. Christian's talent in producing fine spumante wines is rooted in the unique education received by his father Giuseppe, which included a formal training as winemaker in Champagne and numerous visits to that Region. What makes Cantina della Volta unique is the choice of the variety: Lambrusco di Sorbara. Lighter in color and higher in acidity than other Lambrusco varieties, Sorbara makes some of most delicate and elegant sparkling wines in Emilia, its character and finesse are only exhalted by Cantina della Volta's decision to use the Champenois Method.
From the vineyards located between the Secchia and Panaro rivers, in the typical Sorbara countryside, Cantina della Volta hand-harvests only the best, highest-quality Lambrusco di Sorbara grapes to produce their Classic Method wines. The traditional fermentation in bottle represents a tribute to the passage of time. The long maturation on the fine lees produces a deliciously refined perlage, resulting in a Spumante wine of elegance and finesse, which can be seen as nothing short of extraordinary and innovative.
Christian Bellei’s unrestrained passion and uncompromising search for the best results, enables him to craft wines with a unique sense of place, clear varietal character and unmatched elegance.
Owner and winemaker Fabio Cenni has dedicated the last 40 years of his life to one single grape: Sangiovese, which he interprets in an uncompromisingly classic way. Starting in the late 1970s from a small plot inherited from his father, and planted with 5 pre-phylloxera clones of Sangiovese, Fabio has gradually increased his vineyards holdings to 5 Hectares, bringing the total selection of Sangiovese clones to 28. In his drive to study and understand this historical grape, Fabio has selected the best clones for each of parcel, matching with incredible precision each clone to the particular soil found in his vineyards. This diverse palette of clones allows Fabio to craft Sangiovese wines of delicious complexity, while his commitment to long bottle aging for all his wines provide for ethereal complexity and finesse. Located in the town of Chiusi, in south-eastern Tuscany bordering Lazio and Umbria, Colle Santa Mustiola’s underground cellar is a former Etruscan tomb, a testimony and an homage to the wine that was produced in this area already more than 2000 years ago.
Located in Cureggio (Novara, Piedmont) La Capuccina is a marvelous “Cascina” (an old, renovated farmhouse), hosting the restaurant and agriturismo owned by the husband & wife duo of chefs Gianluca and Raffaella Zanetta. Soon after opening his restaurant, inspired by the passion for the native grapes of his land, Gianluca set out to make his own wine. He acquired two small vineyards in the rolling hills of the nearby Fara DOC, one of the tiny appellations in the Alto Piemonte area, planted exclusively with Nebbiolo and Vespolina. Gianluca is a firm believer in sustainable agriculture and refrains from using any synthetic chemical, both in his vineyards and in the garden that supplies all the produces for his kitchen. As with his cuisine, which aims at the purity and wholesomeness of the flavors and is based entirely on natural, local products and ingredients, Gianluca has a very non-interventionist approach to his wines. All wines are fermented spontaneously with native yeasts, and only large Slavonian oak “botti” are used for aging. With the aid of his vineyard manager & cellar master, Gianluca is crafting elegant, refined wines that are precise, clear examples of the grape varieties they are made with.
‘Le Sincette’ is the name of the votive statues that dot the Valtènesi countryside, a gorgeous area in the hilly west shores of Lake Garda (Lombardy).
Founded by the Brunori Family and co-owned and run by the restless Andrea Salvetti, Le Sincette is a certified biodynamic/organic farm, founded on the principles of respect for the Environment and its rhythms, simplicity and balance. The Farm lies in the municipality of Picedo di Polpenazze del Garda (Brescia), in the heart of Valtènesi, a land of glacial morainic rolling hills and a temperate climate strongly influenced by the proximity of Lake Garda. The estate covers a total of 35 hectares: 10 of which are planted with vines, 5 with olive groves, and the balance is arable land cultivated with wheat, alfa alfa and barley. The vineyards are cultivated with single Guyot, a training system that reduces the grape yield to avoid stressing the vine, and all grapes are harvested by hand. For his wines, Andrea has developed a style that brings clearly out the varietal character of his grapes, through spontaneous fermentations and minimal intervention, he preserves the bright fruit flavors, a cleansing acidity and overall balance in all his wines.
Valtènesi is the birth place of Groppello Gentile, an high quality native grape with a small cluster capable of making juicy wines with plenty of bright cherry fruit, lively acidity, fresh spices and fine tannins. Furthermore, this area shares with the southern and south-eastern shores of Lake Garda (in the Veneto region) the tradition of making “Chiaretto” or “the wine of one night”, a lively, juicy rosè wine that is all the rage in the torrid summers along Lake Garda’s shores.
For three generations the Maculan family has been nurturing vineyards and making wine from a wide array of native and traditional grapes in hills of Breganze, an enchanting village on the lower slopes of the Asiago high-plain, in the Veneto region between Verona and Venice. Here, volcanic soils and a cool climate provide for wines of vibrant acidity and elegant character. Breganze is quite unique appellation: native varieties share the stage with International ones, which were brought in the 1800’s by the French and the Austrians, along with their winemaking techniques. For these reasons, Breganze is a place where two worlds collided: local winemakers, who have nurtured their native grapes despite the Phylloxera disease, 2 world wars and adverse consumer trends, are also proudly making delicious wines from classic varieties like Cabernet and Pinot Noir, which they consider traditional. A remarkable example of the long standing winemaking tradition of Breganze is the Torcolato DOC, a dessert wine made with air-dried Vespaiola grapes, a delicacy known at least as 1754.
Since 1974, after taking over from his father Giovanni, Fausto Maculan has defined its own style: a minimalistic winemaking approach aimed at creating the perfect balance between the sheer pleasure of full, rich fruit aromas, and the balanced, focused finish of elegant tannins and refreshing acidity. Angela and Maria Vittoria Maculan, representing the third generation, are now following their father’s footsteps, bringing new ideas and energy, and a feminine touch, to the Winery. Winemaking and life-style at Maculan are one and the same: like their wines, the Maculans are positive, energetic people that enjoy their life and work to the fullest, but always with understatement and balance. This signature style has made Maculan wines recognized and appreciated in the finest establishments throughout the world.
Nestled on the hills overlooking the town on Messina, in north-eastern Sicily, Palari's vineyards have been cultivated by the Geraci's family for generations, in what is considered one of Italy's smallest appellations: the Faro DOC. In the late 1980s Salvatore Geraci, an Architect specialized in restructuring and preserving historical palaces and villas, took over his Family's vineyards with a clear goal: restore the winemaking reputation of this small Sicilian appellation, renowned since the Romans for making fine wines. The geographical location, on the north-eastern tip of Sicily constantly swiped by marine winds, and the terraced vineyards on sandy and limestone soils, provide for a rather unique setting for the native grapes grown in this area: Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Nocera, Acitana, Calabrese, Core e'Palumma, Tignolino, Galatena...Since their first release in 1990, the wines of Palari have received international acclaim, and are considered an integral part of the Sicilian "Winemaking Renaissance" that begun in the 1980s. Palari's wines have an unmistakable mediterranean personality, and are considered among Italy's finest.
The Primosic Family is intimately linked to the history of Collio's winemaking. Founder Silvestro (Silvan) Primosic was in the committee that supported and piloted the creation of the Collio protected appellation in 1967. Today his two children run the winery, maintaining the focus on the native and traditional varieties of the area, and striving for a style that favors clear, precise fruit aromas, intense flavors and overall balance. The Winery's vineyard management is based on a precise match of each variety with the various types of soil available, thus ensuring a perfect fusion of the varietal character with its Terroir.
The winery is located in Oslavia, in the “Collio Goriziano”, a few miles from the border with Slovenia. Eastern european and Austrian/German winemaking influences are clearly visible in Primosic’s style, especially in their Ribolla Gialla Riserva, produced in the traditional style with skin maceration. Just like in other parts of the “Tri-Veneto” (north-eastern Italy), the French and Austrian presence in the 1800’s has left an indelible mark and grapes like Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are considered an integral part of the regional winemaking traditions, and are grown along native grapes like Ribolla Gialla, Friulano, Malvasia Istriana and Refosco.
The Fourth generation of the Primosic Family is now running the winery, with Marko focused on Winemaking and Sales, and his brother Boris managing the operations and the administration.
Nestled on the foothills of Trentino’s “Terra dei Forti” (the Land of the Fortresses) on the border with Veneto, Roeno is owned by the Fugatti siblings (Cristina, Roberta and Giuseppe), who followed in their father Rolando’s (the Ro in RoEno) footsteps in producing fine wines from the native and traditional grapes of their area. Vineyard management and winemaking are in the capable hands of Giuseppe Fugatti, while Roberta manages the restaurant and the hotel and Cristina oversees Marketing and Sales.
Roeno is one of the very few producers of Enantio, an ancient native grape, known already by Pliny The Elder, that has survived for over 2000 years in the valleys of Terradeiforti, and that makes deeply colored, dense and spicy red wines.
Lower Trentino is home to some of the most ancient native Italian grapes, like Teroldego (a parent to Lagrein and Marzemino), Enantio, Marzemino and Nosiola. Blessed by ideal growing conditions, Trentino, albeit small, is home to some of Northern Italy’s most interesting grapes, and like many other Regions in North-Eastern Italy, offers a variety of wines from both native and traditional varieties (brought here by the French and the Austrians as far back as the 1800).
The Villa of Torre a Cona and its surrounding buildings have lived through many centuries and gone through various events, as clearly shown by the complexity their architecture. While historians have documented that the oldest Tower of the Estate existed as a military fortification known as ”Torri a Quona” already in 1066 AD, the current Villa and its typically florentine façade were built in the 1700’s by the Marquis Rinuccini family, who took over the original castle already in the 14th Century. Thanks to its unique position a few miles south of Florence, the Estate served as a German Army headquarter during WW2, but it was spared the heavy bombing of the Allies as it housed several masterpieces from Michelangelo and Donatello in its cellars. In the Summer of 1944 it was taken by the British Army, who turned it into an hospital, before eventually returning it to the Rossi di Montelera Family.
The Rossi di Montelera re-took possession of the Estate in the ‘50s and gradually restored the Villa in what is it today a marvelous Farm and Resort. Niccolo’ Rossi di Montelera spearheaded the new winemaking project, focusing his efforts on establishing sustainable farming practices, restoring the old Castle’s cellars and renewing his commitment to native grapes like Sangiovese and Colorino Valdarno. His first new vintages were released in 2013, and since then Torre a Cona has become a rising star in Tuscan winemaking. A Piemontese/Val d’Aosta team (Beppe Caviola-Federico Curtaz) oversees vineyard management and winemaking, both based on the most traditional and respectful methods, delivering wines of ultimate elegance and grace, varietal pureness and complexity.
Villa Papiano is first and foremost an enchanted place: an ancient Villa, located at 500mt elevation amidst the valleys and the forests of the Appennino that runs between Romagna and Tuscany.
The estate is owned and managed by Francesco Bordini and his Siblings: Maria Rosa and Giampaolo. Francesco is a true expert in the native grapes of Romagna, and his winemaking style is minimalistic and low-key: his wines are crisp, savory, and balanced with ripe, juicy fruit and amazing lift.
Villa Papiano and the village of Modigliana have always been synonymous with quality viticulture in the Apennine hills: high altitudes, less fertile soil and vineyards planted adjacent to forested areas - these are the severe but yet ideal conditions to grow grapes that will deliver long-lived wines, and that best describe Villa Papiano’s environment.
The history of Villa Papiano began in the15th century when under Papiano, a Lieutenant of the Medici family, this territory became a strategic location, from which the whole area could be controlled and agriculture could be diffused.
Francesco and his Siblings took over Villa Papiano 2001, and rebuilt the terraces of the old vines planted in the 1960’s to ensure the continuing evolution of their concept of wine as a true expression of this environment: wines that speak of flowers and undergrowth, subtle, vertical, with a slight salinity. Wines of surprising longevity.
The vineyards are located on the edge of the south-facing slope of Mount Chioda between 450 and 539 mt above sea level, facing the Ibola stream which marks the beginning of the less developed and closed valley of Modigliana. The Bordinis dry-farm their land, and all their grapes are organically grown. Sangiovese is their most important grape, followed by Albana, and by the ancient native varieties Centesimino, Negretto, and Balsamina. The vines are grown using the “alberello” system, as well as the low espalier method to take maximum advantage of the heat from the ground.
The winery is located in an unspoilt natural landscape, close to the beautiful Casentinese Forest National Park, where no hunting is permitted. The strong commitment to organic and sustainable agriculture allows the Bordinis to work together with Mother Nature: feeding plants with just light, love, compost and green manure allows them to craft wines with unique personalities, that are true expressions of the grape’s varietal character and of the Modigliana environment.
Owned by the Fugatti Family, this small Estate is located near Pochi di Salorno, a few miles South of Bolzano, in the heart of Alto Adige, and it represents an ideal geographical extension of Fugatti’s Roeno winery, located in neighboring Trentino.
The Fugatti cultivate both traditional and native grapes of the area: Pinot Bianco, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Nero and Lagrein.
The limestone and porfyric composition of these soils provide for plenty of refreshing minerality and savory backbone, while Giuseppe Fugatti’s winemaking style aims at respecting the varietal character while maintaining the perfect balance between juiciness and elegance.
The first Von Blumen wines were released on the Market with the 2013 vintage, after several years of attentive experimentation, aimed at understanding the different soils and varieties planted in the 30 acres of the Estate-owned vineyards, which are cultivated and maintained applying sustainable micro-biological techniques aimed at preserving the environment while ensuring the optimal protection of the fruit from mold and rot. The outmost commitment to the highest quality standards as well as the earnest respect of the Environment in which they live and work, are the inspiring values at Von Blumen.
The Fugatti have dedicated this project to their Mother, whose last name in German is Von Blumen.