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Allegrini 2018
VISIONS OF THE FUTURE

Oscar Farinetti: “Italian wine is told as organic, as clean: we must do it first”

Wine2Wine: communication and the importance of rediscovering “the lost art of listening”
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In Verona, Oscar Farinetti on stage at Wine2Wine

“We have to become the first totally organic wine-producing country, and tell it, and tell it as “clean”, because we have the climatic conditions and the protection of the Mediterranean and the Alps that allow us to do so”. said Oscar Farinetti, entrepreneur, wine producer, writer and dreamer. “But we can’t do that, because to do that we have to change the rules of the consortia, the protocols, the specifications”, replied Attilio Scienza, dean of viticulture, professor at the University of Milan and president of the National Wine Committee, which oversees changes in specifications. “And so we change the rules, the protocols, we find the way, if there is the will: innovations in history have always been opposed, even writing, which a great man like Socrates did not like. But they are the ones that have moved the world forward”. A dialogue, a small impromptu “symposium” by two influential personalities and in their different fields authoritative, which, in its own way, summarizes, in a plastic way, the internal debate within the industry on its future. Including that of wine communication, which, as Farinetti said, “creates that intangible value, which makes wine sell better, creating more value and also the conditions for the supply chain, starting with the winemaker, to be better remunerated”. Reflection that comes at the tail end of the panel at Wine2Wine, the business forum by Vinitaly, which saw Oscar Farinetti, founder of Eataly and a longtime producer with Fontanafredda, lead a group puts together several realities in many important wine territories (from Fontanafredda itself and Borgogno, in the Langhe, to Le Vigne di Zamò, in Friuli, via the Cantine del Castello di Santa Vittoria, in the Roero, San Romano, in the Dogliani area, Brandini in La Morra, and Serafini & Vidotto, in the Veneto, and again from Il Colombaio di Cencio in Chianti Classico and Palmento Carranco, in a joint venture with Tornatore, on Etna), with the indicative title: “the lost art of knowing how to listen”.
“This is a theme that goes far beyond wine. We are in a strange form of “new humanism”, which does not put man at the center, but the “I”, the “self”, everyone talks about himself. If you pay attention to a dialogue between two people”, Farinetti said, “one tells the other his problem, the other pretends to listen to him, and then tells his problem in turn. The most uttered word, especially in Italy, is “I”. Everyone talks about himself, and no one listens to the problems of others, because, at the center we have ourselves. This is our interpretation of social media, understood as a tool to talk about ourselves. Everyone loves to let the world know what they did today, what they ate, where they are going. It happens in politics, and then we all do it, by fall”. What does it have to do with wine communication? “It has everything to do with it”, Farinetti said, to WineNews, “because if everyone talks about themselves, and we don’t tell our stories together, you don't go anywhere. Listening”, Farinetti continued his tale, “is important. In Fontanafredda we have created the “Forest of Thoughts”, where people can enter and “listen to each other”, through 12 stages, each dedicated to a value, with display boards where certain themes are addressed, from “Cogito ergo sum” onward, it is a path that lasts an hour or so. And it’s one of the ways we came up with to chat around wine”. Wine that, according to Farinetti, for those who have “the luck of being born in Italy, which is luck, because no one chooses where to be born”, should be told “as a flag, as the greatest national agricultural identity we have”.
And because it is the best expression of territories, of biodiversity and of Italians, who are “sons of the sons of the sons of Julius Caesar, of Lorenzo the Magnificent and of so many “global”, not “sovereignist” characters, who have changed the world, have moved it forward”. We Italians are great at producing, we have the best manufacturing in the world. But we are not good at communicating, and the French in wine outclass us because in addition to having a high-quality product they know how to tell about it. An example? In France, for a “cheap château” there are 30 signs that take you there, there is infrastructure, parking, everything. In Moncalieri, Piedmont, there is a beautiful castle from the second part of the seventeenth century of the Savoy family, beautifully restored, with a lot of art in it, and the only sign is “electronic speed control”. We have so many prohibitions, typical of a lazy people, it’s easier. To narrate beauty you have to study, engage, read. Laziness is one of the negative characteristics of our people. Instead we are the top wine producers in the world, but the first thing we should tell about terroir: you make wine everywhere, with 1,200 varieties, while in France with 200 varieties it is in five areas. I came late to wine, I used to sell appliances, but I was born in the grape harvest, my mom was from Barolo and my dad was from Barbaresco, it was destiny. But I started late compared to others. I had to speed up, and to do that I studied, which I like very much. In books, but also in the field, being together with farmers and winemakers. Like on the day when you decide when to do harvest, when the head agronomist and head winemaker bicker about when to start, because the farmer wants to bring the result to the winery, the winemaker wants the best from the grapes. And that is a real dialogue, where we talk not about the good of the farmer or the winemaker, but the good of the wine. We have to tell about biodiversity, and the supply chain, because behind everything is the supply chain. Even in that of life, which is made up of feelings that become thoughts, that turn into words, that give rise to actions, that become products. Just like products in agriculture that are born from plants, with are roots, stem, branches, leaves, fruits. That’s how everything is born. The food chain is the same: agriculture, processing, cooking, plate”. And also wine, which, according to Farinetti, “is the best drink in the world”, and whose market is set to grow. “Today the world wine market is worth 70/75 billion euros, a pittance, less than the turnover of the Coca Cola Company. But it will grow, we will reach 300 billion within 40 years, because 2/3 of the world today does not drink wine, but they will. In Dubai, we opened our third store and they allowed us to sell wine: it’s full, the Arabs drink it, because they taste it and say it’s good. Today between us and France of that 75 billion we charge 45 billion. But they make twice as much as we do because they are better at telling the story, they bring home the average price twice as much because something told well sells better: it’s not ripping off, it’s material value. To create intangible value we have to enter the myth, and to do that we need to create identity, which is fundamental. And we, as Italy, have to give ourselves the identity of “clean” wine, of organic, whether it’s organic or biodynamic, because we are in the best latitude and climatic conditions to do that. The world will have to think that drinking Italian wine is healthier than drinking those from other countries. Imagine this, in Italy wine will have to be only organic, mandatory in specifications. We will get there, but if we get there after others we will call ourselves stupid. It needs identity, speed of action, and respect for the supply chain. It needs the study of history and tradition, but also the effort to create and innovate. Because as Socrates said, true wisdom is knowing that you do not know”.

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