Bunches of ripe Pinot Grigio grapes in a vineyard in the delle Venezie area
Photo courtesy Consozio DOC delle Venezie
The coronavirus situation has forced wine producers around Italy to change their business plans for the immediate and near future. How have the producers’ marketing groups – known as consorzi – met this challenge and what are their plans for the road ahead?
We talked with four consorzi in Italy, starting with the Consorzio DOC delle Venezie Pinot Grigio, located in Verona.
We asked Albino Armani, president of the consorzio, have you and your members put together any plans regarding your work during this crisis? “We have enhanced our online activities, first of all with our social media strategy – posts and advertising in order to reach the final consumer of our main markets,” he comments. “Secondly by undertaking important partnerships with an influential wine expert who will realize in the very next days virtual tastings and webinars of our new vintages destined to traders, press, opinion leaders and wine lovers and published on his official channels.
“Finally, we made our contribution with a donations to the regional hospitals of Veneto, Trentino and Friuli Venezia Giulia and supported a charity wine sales auction organized by some sommelier friends because it is important to remember that we are strictly part of a community that must be supported.”
Is there a message he wants to tell the public and trade about their identity during the crisis? “Our wines are certified, the quality and safety of what is inside the bottles are undisputedly guaranteed. We strongly need the consumer to continue to support Pinot grigio stile Italiano which definitely is the same and safe wine they fell in love with. The public can follow us on our social network: we are working to explain how this wine is the one able to keep us together, in virtual aperitifs with friends, reading a book, having family dinner, relaxing, cooking new recipes and playing on pairings, waiting for everything to be over to finally have a real toast always with a glass of Pinot Grigio, all together, and not in front of a screen.”
Map of Asti production zone
Courtesy Asti DOCG Consortium
At the Asti DOCG Consortium where products such as Moscato d’Asti and Asti Spumante are their most famous wines, vice president Stefano Ricagno notes that “work in the vineyards is going on at normal rhythms,” with sales being “in line with last year’s.” He adds that despite the crisis, “our marketing actions in support of our designation wines and our production area will be even more significant.”
Is there a positive he can find in this situation? “We’ve had a chance to spend more time with one another. This is good. The frantic lives we used to lead before this did not leave us with much time to spend with our families or our coworkers. An emergency like this one, oddly enough, has some positive aspects: if you can stay healthy, you can take advantage of them.
“We will convey more pride and sense of belonging, from the growers to the most renowned brands associated with our designation wines, our history and a wine unique the world over.”
Map of the Chianti zones
Courtesy Consorzio Vino Chianti
We also spoke with Giovanni Busi of the Consorzio Vino Chianti, and asked him what sort of planning was taking place to increase or at least maintain sales as much as possible. “That kind of planning is still complicated, in part because we don’t know where and how we will be intervening. Each single country has a completely different logic of promotion and sales. We will adapt our marketing strategies to the specific situation. What is certain is that we will be even more present as soon as the markets reopen and purchases begin. Country by country, our actions will be much more incisive than before the pandemic.”
We also asked Busi if there was anything he wanted to tell the public about their work now during the coronavirus situation. “All of Italy is in a state of pause, justly so. But while everything else seems halted, we in Chianti have to continue. Our farms and workers are operating day after day, taking the steps for production towards the 2020 harvest. As always, we will be hoping for the best possible vintage. Towards that aim, all of our wineries are continuing with their constant qualitative improvements.
“For the public, what we see is that they still support us by continuing to choose our product. Even though none of us are going out we can still enjoy a good bottle of Chianti. In fact we have the extra calm for true enjoyment: we can study the label, get to know the producer, understand the philosophy behind each bottle. And when isolation ends, we’ll be welcoming everyone for their trip to the countryside, the winery, the cellars!
Courtesy Istituto Marchigiano di Tutel Vini
Finally we spoke to Alberto Mazzoni of the Istituto Marchigiano di Tutela Vini, a group of producers from Marche about his plans during this crisis. “We are working closely with the local government of Marche region to develop a 2 billion euro promotional campaign for all of our agri-food products, including wine,” Mazzoni comments. “The whole campaign will involve about 43,000 companies and could be the starting point for a true Marche ‘flagship’ promotion we have always been hoping for. The current crisis could at least trigger this aggregation process and make us more united than ever.”
Is there a message he wants to tell the public at this moment? “We always call our region the “Italian plural region” because the Marche include a great variety of landscapes and traditions, from the seaside to the Appenines, but also because we always try to work in team to reach our goals. This team-working feature of our identity is strongly coming out during this crisis and will hopefully help us deal with the economic consequences of the virus widespread.
“The best way to support us from the other side of the world is to buy our wines and drink them at home. This will not only help our producers, but also their commercial partners abroad.”