Allegrini 2018

Romagna, wine revival in synergy with art, landscape and territory

The strategy of Consorzio Vini di Romagna, led by Ruenza Santandrea, looks beyond the Pandemic to communication, tourism and promotion

Romagna wines are restarting by enhancing their various wine identities and teaming up around the three pillars, Sangiovese, Albana and Trebbiano, alongside gems such as Cagnina, Pagadebit or Rebola. Plus, international promotions, especially in the second half of 2021, when we hope the Pandemic will have loosened its grip a little. The most important part is investing in incoming and wine tourism, for the history of a less well-known territory, i.e., Romagna and its hinterland, where wine is a historical and well-established element of sociability and economy. The vineyards design much of the landscape amongst castles, the legacy of many small lords of the past, places of art and culture, in a land that the journalist Guido Nozzoli defined, “a land that has no borders, not famous for forests, mountains, rivers, or climate, but for its people and their habits. It is not a geographical region, but a region of character, an island of sentiments. A planet invented by its inhabitants”. Romagna wine is getting back into motion starting an improved and long-range strategic action with the Consortium of Romagna Wines, led by Ruenza Santandrea and the general manager, Filiberto Mazzanti, at the helm of a Consortium counting 114 members, 7 cooperatives, 5 bottles, 102 wine producers, and a supply chain of 5.200 winemakers who produce grapes, in an area where 62% of all the wine in Emilia Romagna is produced. The region has been targeting more and more the Menzioni Geografiche Aggiuntive (many have already been acknowledged, and more are coming), which is growing in bottling, a sign that focusing on higher quality and uniqueness pays off.
“The Romagna region is famous for its beaches, its “dolce vita” lifestyle, and its hospitality, for which it is best known. Further, there is also the hinterland designed by the vineyards and its fascinating history”, said Ruenza Santandrea recently in a webinar hosted by the journalist Anna Scafuri on the Italian TV channel RAI (TG1), “made of wine and beauty. This is the Romagna that we have not shared up until now, and instead we are ready to narrate, sharing the history of this territory and its winemakers. Romagna is a land of people; we have not had great dukedoms and lordships. To understand wine you need to work in the vineyards, talk to the producers and realize that wine is the product of human culture. You must clearly explain why Albana is best expressed in a certain area of Romagna, or why Sangiovese, which has been pure here for centuries, is expressed in a variety of ways in the different sub-areas. We have set up a permanent promotion activity in the area, re-launching events and initiatives, such as “Vini ad Arte”, “Postcards of Romagna”, and much more, even though the situation linked to the Pandemic has not been easy”.
The situation has also weighed heavily on the Romagna wine market. Last summer there was an enormous rebound and a great interest in tourism not only on the coast, but also in the hills, Ruenza Santandrea underlined, “the surplus of bottling in 2020 was very similar to the amount sold, since we’re talking about -7.5%. We cannot say that we have been stable because”, Filiberto Mazzanti, manager of the Consorzio Vini di Romagna explained realistically, “on the whole it might seem a modest decline, while it is actually not vertical in the supply chain. The large structured groups on the mass retail market have suffered less, while the economic situation is extremely challenging for many small wineries that work almost exclusively on the HORECA channel. We are looking to the future, thanks to the 2020 harvest in Romagna, which we would define as “good and fair”; that is, great quality, perhaps one of the best ever considering how well the grapes ripened. There was a drop in volume on the average, but the quantities were still very good”.
The synergy between wine and territory is even more important, as Ruenza Santandrea pointed out. “Alongside the institutional site, we have created the portal, “Postcards from Romagna”, that indicates all the historical and landscape points of interest in the area, as well as wineries offering hospitality, restaurants and over 80 artisan shops where you can find Romagna wines. The portal”, explained Ruenza Santandrea again, “also lets you build themed itineraries around the territory; for instance, cultural, artistic, naturalistic, food as well as follow the path of Dante, as 2021 marks 700 years since his death. Then we wanted to focus on incoming tourism in the area with “Vini ad Arte”, an event scheduled for the end of August 2021, which will not be a Preview because it would not make sense in August. The theme will be “When grapes are a masterpiece”, and the format will be itinerant, from Rimini to Faenza, discovering the territory and the producers. Twenty journalists from Europe, China, Japan, the USA and Canada will participate as well as the Italian ones, and a special event: tasting grapes in the vineyard, a sort of preview of what the 2021 harvest will be like”.
Tourists from abroad, then, which along with the promotion in a “foreign land”, “aims to expand the market not only for the big structured companies that already have a strong international plan”, explained Ruenza Santandrea, responding to WineNews, “but also for all the small businesses whose main outlet still today is the local market of Romagna”.
“We have decided to organize everything between October and November 2021”, stated Mazzanti, “hoping for an interval from the Pandemic, so that we can hold in person events. Events should be small and targeted, because in our opinion in 2021 the major International fairs will still probably not be held in person. We have considered seminars for 30-40 people at a time in Amsterdam, Holland, Liège, Belgium, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Hamburg in Germany. We have been working in these countries for 5 years, accompanying producers, and the results have been good. It could be the first step towards a return to normal events, but of course, as the Pandemic has taught us, we will be ready to transform everything into remote events, as we have already done, hoping that it won’t be necessary”.

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