Allegrini 2018

Quality of wine and people: the secret to success, according to Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja

To WineNews, the top manager of high-end Italian wine, who (from the end of the year) will no longer be Ornellaia and Masseto CEO

First at Antinori, then at Frescobaldi, with a focus on Ornellaia and Masseto, two myths of Italian wine, Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja was and is one of the managers who has contributed most, through the companies in which he has worked, to the creation of the value of Italian labels, thanks to the driving force of absolute icons, such as those from Bolgheri. Intuition, marketing skills and, above all, in the management of people and their involvement in company projects, the fundamental characteristics for success, and which have guided the manager’s path. A very long path, which has gone through epochs and changes in wine, and which will not stop, but will follow a different step, since, as of December 31, 2023, Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja, thanks to whose work the turnover of Ornellaia and Masseto has quintupled, from 2005 to 2022, will no longer be CEO of the two estates. But he will not be out of the wine business. “Until the end of the year I will not talk to anyone, then we will see if there are different projects, outside or inside the Frescobaldi group. There are interesting things potentially, but until the end of the year I can’t and won’t talk about them”, Geddes, told WineNews, in a conversation that started with a basic reflection: people pass away, but companies remain. “Certainly, but you need quality people”, the manager explained, “to carry on projects. And even if a person is very good at something very technical and specific, sometimes that is not enough. You have to be good at managing people, understanding their characters, understanding what they accept and do not accept, whether they are willing to really put themselves in front of a very important job or not. The quality of the men and women is absolutely essential, as is the collaboration within the group and the company in which you work”. And this, too, is one of the ingredients of the success of Tenuta Ornellaia’s “Vendemmia d’Artista” project, which was born with Geddes in a pioneering way, when pairing the names of great artists with great wines, for charity, but also to give value to brands, was far from a widespread practice, as it is today. And which, in 15 editions, has donated as much as 2.5 million euros to museum and cultural institutions around the world, including the $300,000 raised in the auction held by Sotheby’s these days.
“It is a project that has given great satisfaction, and in addition to raising funds for important realities, it has helped us to grow our values. We started in 2005 with an ex cellar price of 50 euros per bottle of Ornellaia and 75 euros for Masseto, today we are at 230 to 240 euros on Ornellaia, at the consumer, and on 500 euros at the negoce for Masseto, which, at the consumer, becomes between 900 to 1,100. We have managed to give a very important value. From 2005 to 2022 we have quintupled the turnover”. A difficult achievement to repeat, and it comes to Geddes to ask if today, in an increasingly crowded and very difficult wine scene, new wineries and wines destined to become myths can be created, as it was and is for Ornellaia and Masseto. “It is not simple. There are already realities that work very well in this sense, like some names, of Chianti Classico, of Barolo, of Brunello di Montalcino, for example, but not many. Creating new projects like Ornellaia and Masseto is not easy. But first you need people, you need to understand whether they are involved in the project, whether they believe in it or not, whether the company works or not. Then you need marketing, communication, strategy, vision. For example, having separated the paths of Tenuta Ornellaia and Tenuta Masseto, even in terms of communication, was a winning choice”. But first of all, one thing is needed, concludes Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja, in response to a specific question from WineNews: “a great wine, which has an exceptional quality, which people understand and recognize. Quality, which, however, changes over time. And wine must change with the generations, there is no doubt whatsoever”.

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