The Culture of Wine Part II: Masi Agricola

The classy, the classic, Masi Costasera Amarone (Photo courtesy of Archivio Masi Agricola)

Talk about brand recognition! Masi‘s unmistakable label is synonymous with Amarone. The Boscaini family, with papà Sandro at the helm – but also Sandro’s children Alessandra and Raffaele, not to forget brothers Bruno and Mario – are giving back in spades! Their devotion to culture equals their passion for great wine.

For seven generations this family has been making wine. And they openly talk about culture on their website, linking the etymology of culture to the verb to cultivate –  of course, why wouldn’t they?  Cultivating, culture, wine and art.

So what is Masi doing for culture? Plenty. From contemporary art, to the traditional Venetian art of glass-blowing, to music, to publications, to recognizing great contributions with the Masi Prize, this is a company with a focus on culture. Where do they find the time to make the wine?

Grapes drying to make the delicious Amarone!

But first, a little geography lesson: Do you know what the Triveneto is? 800px-Triveneto.svgThis is the area of the Tre Venezie, or 3 Venices! Today, this corresponds to the regions of Veneto (of course!), Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia –  so some very serious winemaking regions! Like most people who are making wine, the Boscaini family and Masi identify with the land. These people even have a section of their website dedicated to ‘Venetian Values’ – talk about  pride in the terroir!

Masi Contemporary Art_bottilgia
Photo courtesy of Archivio Masi Agricola

Let’s first look at Costasera Contemporary Art. Masi holds an international competition to choose a non-Italian artist to create a label for the iconic Amarone Costasera.

Masi Contemporary Art_Studio Gardin
Photo courtesy of Archivio Masi Agricola





Preserving another Venetian art – glass blowing – Masi offers a scholarship for a student to create a work of art in glass dedicated to the theme of wine.

The main event: the Masi Prize


The Fondazione Masi is the foundation that operates in all areas of culture, especially promoting the area of the Veneto. The Foundation was created in 2001, after 20 years of the Masi Prize, which is their main event. Begun in the late ’70s, the Prize is like an Academy Awards of Venetian accomplishment, but not only. Prizes are given to people from the Tri-Veneto region who have excelled in the fields of literature, art, journalism, science, performing arts and economics.

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Famed physicist Carlo Rovelli, recipient of the Masi Prize   Photo courtesy of Archivio Masi Agricola

In addition to these prizes, they have added the International Masi Prize for Wine Culture (Premio Internazionale Masi Civiltà del Vino), which is assigned someone who has contributed to promoting the ancient culture of cultivating the vine, and the Premio Internazionale  Grosso d’Oro Veneziano which is a prestigious, international recognition for a person of any origin who has contributed to spreading the message of culture, solidarity and civil progress in the world.

Photos courtesy of Archivio Masi Agricola

Winners of these prestigious prizes include Andrea Bocelli, Marjane Satrapi, Sergio Romano, the Institute of Masters of Wine, Arrigo Cipriani (of Harry’s Bar fame), Altan, Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Ettore Sottsass, Marchese Incisa della Rocchetta, Fulvio Roiter, Susanna Tamaro, Elisa, among many others.

Yours truly lucky enough to meet Marjane Satrapi at the Masi Prize

Having participated at one of these events, I can assure you that class is the name of the game. The positive energy that flowed through the crowd that night was as tangible as the wine that flowed into the glasses afterwards: a celebration of great lives, great contributions, and the best expression of mankind in so many different fields. Truly inspiring!

Yours truly on the right, up close and personal with one of the signatory casks – all Masi Prize winners put their John Hancocks on a cask!
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Photo courtesy of Archivio Masi Agricola

And shall we talk about Masi publications? From the bilingual periodical ‘Le Venezie: Cultura e Territorio,’ to the volumes devoted to history and culture, Masi publications are elegant and informative.


Music is also near and dear to the Masi cultural heart. They believe that it is one of the best expressions of Venetian culture and promote composers from Vivaldi to Marcello, from Albinoni to Dall’Abaco. They help finance the international Salieri-Zinetti chamber music competition.  And every year they publish a CD, and often offer concerts for the citizens of Verona at the famed Teatro Filarmonico.

Photos courtesy of Archivio Masi Agricola

Is it any wonder Sandro Boscaini is showing Bill Gates his wine? Or chatting with Tim Mondavi and the Marchese Frescobaldi about the drying grapes for Amarone?

What can we say except Thank You and Grazie! to Masi Agricola and the Boscaini Family, not only for their fabulous wines, but for feeding a continuum of positivity with their generous support of culture.


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