The SOMM Journal

June / July 2015

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Page 57 of 100

{ }  57 Mario Piccini tells the story about when he decided as a young man to join the family business: The year was 1982, which was a good omen, as the family business, Tenute Piccini, had been founded 100 years earlier in 1882, Mario would become the fourth generation to be part of the growing Tuscan wine company. On the first day he was officially on the payroll, his father, Pierangelo, showed Mario his new office and desk. This all looks very good, Mario thought, then asked, "But Papa, where is my chair?" He would not need a chair for a while, his father explained, because Mario would be too busy at work in the vineyards, in the winery and on the road making sales calls to find time to sit down at his new desk. In particular, new export markets needed to be looked after in Germany and Switzerland. Twenty-two years later, in 2004, Mario took over as Managing Director of Tenute Piccini, and, although a chair has been added to his office, he still doesn't have much time to sit. Today, the Piccini wine business: ■ is the fifth largest wine company in Tuscany (after Antinori, Banfi, Ruffino and Frescobaldi); ■ has four estates in Tuscany and one in Basilicata; ■ produces 18 million bottles of wine annually, including eight million bottles of Chianti; ■ sells 90 percent of its production in the export market, with distribution in 72 countries; ■ is in the process of becoming known as an Italian wine company and not solely as a Tuscan wine producer. Dreaming Big "A man without a dream is a man who has died," Mario said recently in a conversa- tion from his office at Piccini company headquarters in Castellina in Chianti, near Poggibonsi, a historic city along the Elsa River in the Tuscan countryside between Florence and Siena. The same might be said of the company Mario heads with his younger sister, Martina, because today Tenute Piccini is certainly a company that continues to dream big. Part of that dream is to dramatically increase Piccini's presence in the United States, and earlier this year the company signed an important partnership retaining Foley Family Wines as its exclusive American marketer and distributor. "Our partnership with Foley Family Wines shows our desire to significantly increase focus on the United States," Mario said at the time the agreement was announced. "We are very passionate about the wines we produce and are excited to build awareness among American consumers." The Piccini family spent so much time in the United States when Mario's children were young that they "thought they were American!" he also notes. "Piccini is our first foray into Italian wines," says Bill Foley, Founder and Chairman of Foley Family Wines, whose headquarters are in Sonoma County. "I've always felt that Italian wines would be a great addition to our portfolio, but it was very important to find the right partner. Piccini wines are of excellent quality, and the Piccini family is as innovative and as passionate about the wine business as we are." "My father made it very clear that we would go nowhere without energy and pas- sion," explains Martina, who followed Mario in joining the company in 1992. "There is a big difference between inheriting a wine company and building a wine company, and under my father's guidance we built it as a team." An excellent example of Piccini teamwork is how the family made the decision in 2001 to use orange for its Chianti label, Martina says. "My father wanted a red label that would be in line with Chianti tradition, and my brother pushed for a yellow label that would represent a new approach to Chianti," she says. "My role was to get them THE WINES Among the Piccini offerings are a Brunello di Montalcino from Villa al Cortile; a bold, orange-label Chianti from the family estate in Castellina in Chianti; the unique Memoro series of blends from various growing areas, a first for Italy; and the stately Super Tuscan Sasso al Poggio from Tenuta Moraia in the Maremma region. "I think of every day as being the fit day of my life." —Mario Piini PHOTO COURTESY OF TENUTE PICCINI { cover story } PHOTOS COURTESY OF TENUTE PICCINI

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