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Master of Wine: Sicilian Pietro Russo (Donnafugata) is the first Italian winemaker

This brings to three the number of our country to boast world wine’s most prestigious award (before him Gorelli and Lonardi)

Pietro Russo (winemaker to the Rallo family’s Sicilian label, Donnafugata) is the first winemaker from Italy to become a Master of Wine, the prestigious title awarded by the world’s oldest organization dedicated to the knowledge and trade of wine. This brings to three - with Gabriele Gorelli (the first Italian to reach the milestone, in 2021) and Andrea Lonardi (a long managerial career and a collaboration with Bertani, a historic winery in Valpolicella, and Angelini Wine Estates, of which he was Coo, which he is leaving to pursue other paths in the world of wine, ed.) - the Italians who join the small circle of super experts (there are less than 500 Masters of Wine in the world, from 31 different countries) capable of influencing the global business strategies of the sector, representing a wide variety of different professions, from journalist to academic, from winemaker to manager, from educator to sommelier. 

Pietro Russo, born into a family of winemakers, graduated in viticulture and enology from Conegliano Veneto and earned a master’s degree in Bordeaux. After some experiences abroad and in Italy - Bordeaux, Languedoc, Andalusia, New Zealand and Piedmont - since 2010 he has been working for Donnafugata, one of the reference wineries of Sicilian enology.
With Pietro Russo from today, the production chain will be able to count on a technical representative who will be able to give further visibility to Italian wine in the international arena. “I had clear ideas from a very young age about what I wanted to do when I grew up, but I never imagined I would reach this achievement”, says Pietro Russo, “it has been a very difficult course of study and at the same time full of satisfaction: I like to think that this is just the starting point for many other professional challenges. Pietro Russo began his journey as a Master of Wine student in 2014: having brilliantly passed the first two internships, as his final test he presented a Research Paper in which he compared the main methods of tartaric stabilization, the impact on the chemical-physical profile of wines and production costs. Also discussed within the paper is the possible impact on Sicilian production of the new labeling regulations.
“This course of study”, Pietro Russo continues, “has enriched me not only from the point of view of acquired knowledge and network, but has also given me the opportunity to learn a rigorous and effective working method, which is fundamental to make a synthesis of my skills and to understand and communicate a wine with the aim of positioning it in a qualitative and commercial context”. Regarding the winery in which he works as a winemaker, Russo says: “Donnafugata is an incredible gymnasium, where daily one is confronted with ever new stimuli and needs and where one vintage is worth four. I am happy to have contributed to the qualitative consolidation of the company's wines and to have actively participated in the birth and stylistic development of the wines of the Etna and Vittoria estates. The Rallo family, to whom I am grateful, gave me the opportunity to continue my studies and to work daily on ambitious and innovative projects. I believe I have a keen sense of perceiving the qualitative potential of a territory and adopt a consistent and respectful technical approach to be able to reveal its unique characteristics.I will continue to collaborate with the technical team on relevant projects to bring to light the still enormous growth potential of Sicilian wine and its territories. Looking to the future, I will provide my multidisciplinary skills to embrace new projects and challenges in the wine industry”.
“Together with Gabriele Gorelli and Andrea Lonardi”, Russo concludes, “we constitute a team of compatriots who, with expertise, diversity and complementarity, act as authoritative ambassadors of national wine excellence in the world. Together we have also edited the Italian chapter of Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia, recognized as the world wine bible”.

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