VinItaly is an Italian Wine symposium held annually in Verona, Italy that is as much a celebration of Italian wine and culture as it is about connecting Italian wine growers with buyers from around the world. Every region of Italy is represented, in 16 different buildings, and offers attendees a truly spectacular education of Italian geography, history, viticulture techniques, and regional pride. Everyone believes that where they live is the most beautiful in all of Italy, and every one of them is probably right, Italy truly is a gorgeous country.

Pictured are: Dan Glisky (Woodberry Wine) with Sean Mankowski (Woodberry Wine), Carlo Cerutti (Corteforte), Joe Kotnick (Worldwide Cellars), Fabio Oberto (Andrea Oberto), Franco Massolino (Massolino)


Although I was a first timer to the Veronafiere I thought that I knew what to expect as I attended Prowein last year in Dusseldorf, but there were some substantial differences. It was extremely challenging to get there on a daily basis – with long queues to get in and out, snarled traffic, plenty of one way streets, and a lack of signage for a newbie like me. No one however, is upset if you are late for a meeting because everyone is late for their meetings.


Everyone is warm and friendly. It was not unusual to find people who have attended the “Fiera” 15 times or more and it was all hugs and kisses, the reconnecting of old friendships, and the beginning of new ones.


While attending VinItaly I stayed at one of the terrific, small family owned producers that Kindred Vines imports represents in the United States market, Corteforte. Corteforte winery is located about 30 minutes northwest of Verona in the important Valpolicella town of Fumane, the ancient Roman capital of Pagus Arusnatium, a self-governing district dedicated to the growing of wine. Valpolicella literally means Valley (Val) of the many (poli) cellars (cellae).


Corteforte has been lovingly restored over the years by its founder Carlo Cerutti, with one of the original Roman watchtowers as an architectural centerpiece. Its vineyards consist of a mere 3 hectares and surround the lovely estate which produces elegant Valpolicella Rippaso and Amarone.


Driving to and from Corteforte everyday was a wonderful part of my VinItaly experience. By getting lost literally every single day ( I did not have GPS in my car) I began to get to know the area and learn my way around the back roads and always found myself declaring victory when I stumbled into the Tangenziale (SS12), the main thoroughfare that would take me to Fumane and Corteforte.

Kindred Vines currently imports wine from 11 different Italian producers, for distribution to Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and Florida. I was able to meet with all of them during my visit to VinItaly. Without question, we have a tremendous Italian portfolio, one that continues to grow in quality and quantity. I worked closely with our Italian partner CMK Consulting, Colleen, Vassilios, and Gabriele who all helped insure that my visit was productive and packed full of meetings.


During my VinItaly experience I was able to meet with Antonio Fattori of Fattori (who also hosted a wonderful dinner at his home in the countryside of Soave and where I met new friends from Japan, Norway, and Denmark), Azienda Agricola of Enrico Santini, Lara Imberti of Ronco Calina, Luca Fallador of Il Follo, Riccardo Lepri of Montaudon (who hosted a raucous evening celebration in old town Verona), Guilio Parentini and his partner/cousin Ranieri from Moris Farms (who also hosted a dinner Sunday evening at Romeo y Julietta restaurant, a wonderful evening) Andrea Frangiosa from Antico Colle’, Carlo Cerutti from Corteforte, Massimo Bracco from Costa di Bussia and San Silvestro and my hosts in Friuli – Marta Locatelli , Alan Gaddi, and Allesandro Dal Zovo from Tenuta di Angoris.


In several cases, this was my first time opportunity to meet with these wonderful people, and without exception they all greeted me as if I was an old friend and welcomed me as a member of their family. It was wonderful to share time with them, understand their passion for their work, and to recommit our energies to make their brand successful as their representatives in in the markets in which we serve them. We want to help them grow and to grow with them.


I suppose at the end of the day that is what VinItaly is ultimately all about – building relationships and connecting with talented, passionate people who care deeply about the work that they do. When I see their dedication and understand how hard they work to produce an exceptional product, it makes me ever more determined to work tirelessly for them and to build their brand.
I am looking forward to seeing everyone again soon!

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