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Santa Margherita invests in the USA, with Roco Winery. And the direct-to-consumer channel is opened

A strategic operation for the Marzotto family group, which will be able to communicate with the end consumer (and sell its wines in 17 US states)
The Marzotto brothers and Beniamino Garofalo

One of Italy’s most important wine groups has put down roots in the USA, adding a gem to its already prestigious wine portfolio, but above all opening up the possibility of speaking directly to American consumers in the direct-to-consumer channel: Santa Margherita, one of the most prestigious oenological poles in Italy, belonging to the Marzotto family, through its operating branch in America, Santa Margherita USA, has acquired the majority shareholding in Roco Winery, one of the most prestigious wineries in Oregon, founded in 2001 by Rollin & Corby Stonebraker-Soles, in the Willamette Valley, which produces mainly Pinot Noir, but also Chardonnay and sparkling wines, and which, over the last 10 years, have received high scores from the most important voices of international critics.
Thus, Santa Margherita, a group with a turnover of 172 million euros in 2020, 73% of which was exported, and already the leader of Pinot Grigio in the USA, is now also investing in one of the territories that, in just a few years, has become one of the world’s reference points for Pinot Noir in particular. But, above all, it opens up a new perspective on the No. 1 market for Italian wine. “It is a strategic operation for us in a market as important as the American one, where we are already a leader”, explained Beniamino Garofalo, CEO of Santa Margherita, to WineNews. “In addition to adding a prestigious brand to our perimeter, it will allow us to sell the wines of the Santa Margherita group directly to the final consumer in 17 American states, including Florida, California and Washington, something that the American system based on the Tree-Tier-System (importer-distributor-retail, ed.) only allows American wineries to do. Thus, with the (majority) ownership of Roco Winery, we will be able to dialogue directly with the American end consumer, to make them better acquainted with the stories of our wines and other products that they may still know less about, and to sell them our wines directly. With a different selection, obviously, from the one that currently goes into classic distribution, so as not to overlap”.
This operation is more strategic than volumetric, given that Roco Wine currently produces 200,000 bottles a year, the vast majority of Pinot Noir. On the other hand, the direct-to-consumer channel for wine in the USA reached 3.7 billion dollars in 2020, and in the first half of 2021, it grew further by 12.2% in value and 2% in volume, according to data from the research agency Sovos. “In addition”, adds Garofalo, “we have to consider that Oregon is a state of 4 million inhabitants with a surface area more or less as large as Italy, and from April to September it is normally visited by 36 million wine lovers, mainly from Canada and the United States, who go directly to the wineries to taste the wines”. “When we launched Santa Margherita USA, our vision was to create a robust and relevant winery that showcases the best of the key regions”, added Vincent Chiaramonte, president and CEO of Santa Margherita USA. “Roco is one of Oregon’s most awarded and respected wineries. After meeting with Rollin and Corby, we knew it was the next step to continue building on that vision. They share our common values, and Roco Winery will be a welcome addition to our portfolio”.
“Our affinity and admiration for the United States made the position of our first international wine company a natural choice. The US market is dynamic and we believe in the quality of Oregon wines, particularly those from the Willamette Valley region”, said Gaetano Marzotto, president of Santa Margherita Gruppo Vinicolo. “We are thrilled to be joining the Santa Margherita USA family and to be part of the future of Roco Winery”, added said Rollin Soles, founder and winemaker of Roco Winery. “This new partnership will allow us to continue to make wines that are a true expression of their terroir”. The investment in the United States is therefore the first wine investment abroad for the group founded in 1935 by Count Gaetano Marzotto, and which over the years has brought together some of the most prestigious wineries and brands in Italian wine, such as Santa Margherita, Torresella, Kettmeir, Ca’ del Bosco, Cà Maiol, Lamole di Lamole, Vistarenni, Sassoregale, Terrelíade and Cantina Mesa, pieces of a wine mosaic that unites Veneto, Alto Adige, Franciacorta, Lugana, Tuscany, Sardinia and Sicily.

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