La Famiglia, and the ABC’s of Winemaking

Here at this 50th annual Vinitaly, I am reflecting on family, traditions, values, and the land that is Italy. Let’s face it, this country is one of the world’s most industrial, and it has a unique model to propose: the small- and medium-sized business. There are 4.4 million companies in Italy with less than 250 employees, accounting for 70% of all Italian business.


If the Appennines are the backbone of Italy geographically, small- and medium-sized family-run businesses are the backbone of the Italian economy.

The wine sector is a perfect demonstration of this. These days at Vinitaly, you see generations working side by side – sometimes 3 of them together! – to promote the bounty of their terroir, the family vintage. It is an impressive sight, and there is something to be learned from this generational cooperation.

They love their land. They know how to produce an exellent vintage, they take pride in their work, although there is great humility among those who work the land, and who know that Mother Nature always has the last word.


Here’s my Italian Wine Families Alphabet for 2016:

A – Antinori, Tuscany
B – Boscaini (Masi), Veneto
C – Chiarlo, Piedmont
D – Damilano, Piedmont
E – Elena Walch, Alto Adige
F – Frescobaldi, Tuscany
G – Gaja, Piedmont
H – Hofstatter, Alto Adige
I – …
L – Lungarotti, Umbria
M – Maci (Cantina Due Palme), Puglia
N – Nino Negri, Lombardy
O – …
P – Pio Cesare, Piedmont
Q – …
R – Rallo (Donnafugata), Sicily
S – Santarelli (Casale del Giglio), Lazio
T – Tasca d’Almerita, Sicily
U – Umani Ronchi (Marche and Abruzzo)
V – Vietti, Piedmont
Z – Zonin, Veneto

The road to true success is long and wrought with hardship. But these families have shown that hard work and determination, not to mention pride in your roots and the ability to pass that down from generation to generation, pay off.

Who will be on the 2017 list?


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