Real Talk with Francesco Ganz, CEO of Ethica Wines
We sit down with our CEO, Francesco Ganz, to discuss plans for the future, which are already taking shape.
As one of the largest exporters of wine in the world, it is undeniable that Italy’s wine industry is moving at full speed ahead. For over 25 years, Ethica Wines has guided its portfolio of Italian producers through a constantly-evolving market. As the landscape of the US market and wine consumer continues to change, CEO Francesco Ganz plans to keep Italian wines at the forefront of interest.
EW: Francesco, please comment on Ethica Wines’ recommitment to the US market:
FG: Ethica Wines’ main commitment is to build a strong and reliable bridge between a selection of genuine, passionate, and authentic Italian wine producers and the US consumers. We traveled around Italy looking for those small wineries that have become great over time and we selected producers who are good for the wine and wine culture. Ours is a choice of conduct, matched with the producers’ ethical excellence, namely making wine in a good way. Every consumer should have this in mind when seeking a wine to enjoy.
EW: Ethica Wines just launched a new website and a fresh new look. Why was it important to now refresh your look?
FG: Passing down such stories and values of proud and determined families, with their hidden stories to our beloved US customers, we just felt it was time for Ethica Wines’ look and tools to fully mirror our identity and philosophy. The fresh new Ethica Wines logo recalls vineyard rows and the cycle of nature, like an ancient landscape that is continuously renewed by man’s work; our new pay-off clearly states Ethica’s core values “Earth, heart, earth” and a more dynamic, comprehensive and playful website helps people get acquainted with the valuable products of our portfolio.
EW: For those new to Ethica Wines, what’s a good way to get acquainted with the vast wine portfolio?
FG: Italy is made up of 20 regions which are profoundly different in terms of climate, traditions, landscapes, food culture, dialects and…yes, wine as well! We did our best to select the most representative wines in the main vinicultural areas; I reckon this may be a lot to get acquainted with but this is the reason why the Ethica Wines team travels all across the US to guide customers into our portfolio, leading tastings and telling the peculiarities and memorable anecdotes of each wine producer. We welcome and encourage guests to visit the estates in Italy to fully experience, in person, the beauty of such diversity.
EW: Why choose to only import Italian wines, as opposed to serving other countries like some importers?
FG: We like to say that Ethica wines is a full bearer of its name: our job is not only importing the wines we love and building brands artfully, cleverly, and responsibly but also being true ambassadors of our country. The relationship between Ethica Wines and the wineries is symbiotic: the wineries provide wines of authentic origin and Ethica wines likewise provides and authentic and clear message to the market. In a nutshell, we are Italians just like the wines we select and import for our pleasure.
EW: Italy has now become an undeniable point of reference for foreign importers – the second largest exporter of wine in the world. Looking back on last month’s Vinitaly Expo, which brings wine lovers from all over the world together: even after such a record-setting year in the foreign markets, do you believe Italy’s wine sector is still showing a strong potential for international development over the years to come?
FG: Undoubtedly, yes! I think Italy has just started showing the world its potential; so far only a few Italian wine appellations are consistently exported and well known abroad.
Every Italian region has so many hidden gems yet to be revealed that the real fun starts when leaving the mainstream and starting exploring the so called “alternative” whites and reds coming from peculiar native grapes, such as Gavi or Cannonau.
I think this may be the reason why Vinitaly in Verona obtains every year more and more attendance, and also the reason why tourists from all around the world are never tired of travelling to Italy to discover and taste its diverse beauties.
Going back to wine, I have to underline that, even though Italy is well known for its traditional wine making techniques, in the latest years it has shown great improvements in terms of winemaking, respect for biodiversity and terroirs, and a consistent natural approach to grape growing across the entire peninsula.
It will come with time, but only if you can think about Teroldego growing on top of the Dolomites mountains or Grillo situated on the shore in Sicily, you have a full picture of what Italian wine is.
EW: What does Ethica Wines see as necessary for a brand to succeed in the US market?
FG: Differently from Italy, The US market is extremely heterogeneous and vast which is why long term communication strategies, a consistent positioning all across the country and an even distribution network are key for brand building and brand awareness.
Regarding communication in particular, both online and offline strategies have to be carefully planned in order to reach clients all across the board, from wine critics to novices, and to nourish such relationships in the long term. No need to say that relying on the right importer partner and team of distributors is equally important to maximize the above-mentioned investments in the market.
EW: What are the primary differences in consumption trends in Italy versus the US?
FG: Honestly it is very difficult to make a comparison between Italy and the US given the very different consumption backgrounds. In Italy wine consumption is a tradition which is harder for trends to influence, and each region tends to consume mostly its local wines. The only exception may regard the sparkling category, led by Prosecco, which was able to become popular from north to south and among all kinds of consumers.
Other rising trends are indeed Traditional Method sparkling wines and a new wave of southern Italian wines made from native grape varieties, such as Nerello Mascalese. Overall Italians tend to consume less but better wine compared to the past; wine is a way of living and this will always be so.
In the US, wine consumption is a more recent phenomenon and consumers are more influenced by trends, wine critics and marketing strategies. Moreover, there is a growth of interest about quality on behalf of Millennials who are curious to know more and experience the real Italian lifestyle, especially through social media and online tools. This is where Ethica Wines sees its potential for a bright Italian future in the US.
EW: Now to get personal, share what you personally love about wine and working in the industry:
FG: Through wine you understand the culture and the tradition, you discover the history. Wine tells a story about people and this is more than enough.
EW: What’s the last wine you tasted that caught you by surprise?
FG: Ca’ dei Zago Dosaggio Zero 2015 – a biodynamic Prosecco Superiore DOCG Metodo Classico. Glera is a gentile and delicate grape. We all know this grape because of the notoriety of Prosecco, but not many of us can say that it has a noticeably clear flavor profile. When drinking Ca’ dei Zago Dosaggio Zero I had the feeling of being in the vineyard, tasting and smelling the grape. The wine has a great balance and lots of minerality, with notes of wisteria, rose, citrus fruits, peach and in the end, green apple. When I drink a glass of wine, I also think about the people, the land where the grape grows and the culture that there is behind, that’s why I love Ca’ dei Zago.
Until next time,
The Ethica Wines team