These are times of great satisfaction for the Umbrian winery Caprai, which starts the year with a prestigious award: ‘European Winery of the Year’ according to the authoritative magazine “Wine Enthusiast”. Chiara Giovoni, sommelier, writer for wine&food blog and magazines, tells us more about it…
Making wine in Umbria
Interview with Marco Caprai
These are times of great satisfaction for the Umbrian winery Caprai, which starts the year with a prestigious award: ‘European Winery of the Year’ according to the authoritative magazine “Wine Enthusiast”.
The ceremony, which is the equivalent to the Oscars for wine was held at the Public Library of New York on Manhatten’s 5th Avenue. The nomination read: “The innovative Caprai has helped revive Umbria’s indigenous grapes, bringing the wine region into the international spotlight for its production of Sagrantino di Montefalco.”
We interviewed a proud Marco Caprai, owner and frontman of the family cellar, on his return home from his U.S. tour, but first a brief description of the Arnaldo Caprai Company. Marco Caprai strongly believed in the opportunities that could come from the long tradition deeply rooted in the grape vines of Sagrantino variety, which has been growing in the region of Montefalco for more than four hundred years. His vision is the translation of this heritage with a modern and innovative approach, thanks to research and long-term experimentation with the aim of making top quality, elegant wines with a recognisable personality, a pure and complex expression of the Montefalco territory.
“Caprai is now Italian wine excellence, certainly a production pride and synonym of Made in Italy in the world. How do you reach the USA, India and China from Montefalco, in Umbria?”
My recipe is the choice of a coherent idea based on a strong territorial identity and a recognisable quality. No coincidence that when I speak of tradition I always join the word “modernity”, because if tradition was enough also many other initiatives would have had their fortune abroad. The idea behind our work is revaluate the tradition through an innovative approach, and research and experimentation are at the heart of innovation. The methods applied to obtain top quality grapes include different types of experimental training systems and a stable, natural and artificial cover cropping. Moreover, we follow through more rational approach in the plant protection processes and a reduced use of nitrogenous fertilizers, inspired by a model of sustainable viticulture. In my experience I can say today that the Sagrantino wine has become over time a innovative and modern wine, but abroad an unquestionable and recognizable quality is the starting point to tell the stories of people and territories. A vinery must be consistent with its vision, and I think that an original interpretation is fundamental, while respecting the history of places.
“What is your target audience and what your customer in new markets love most of Sagrantino, your most representative wine?”
Abroad, our main target is the good quality Italian restaurants. The Italian restaurants that have conquered the palates of foreigners in foreign countries are our flagship, and through them the excellence of Italian wine arrives to the consumer. In an high level restaurant that has a wine list with Italian high quality references our Sagrantino has become a milestone, and for this we have to thank restaurant and beverage manager very prepared, which along with the wine experts and wine buyers have reached a very strong specialization. Sagrantino is loved because it is a native vine, unique expression of the combination of land, nature, people and history.
“Back to the Award from Wine Enthusiast.”
It ‘was a great thrill, because it was like being at the Oscars, with the nominations and the suspense of the case. It is a unique event because even the famous magazine Wine Spectator awards the cellars, but does not organize an event of this media power, with exciting prizes such as the Lifetime Achievement Award. We have won the Award as European Winery of the Year, and I’m really proud because it is a reward for our philosophy, for being able to interpret from the starts the rediscovery of a territory with an authoctone grape, and we have been able to bring it to international attention.
“A personal question: What do you like most about traveling abroad for work?”
I love going to see the wine territories, even if it is a professional deformation. In fact I’m very curious about what happens outside our country, and I try to go to discover new wineries or try new restaurants to observe what others are doing. It helps to open my mind. Of course I also go running because due to dinners and tastings sport is essential to keep in shape.
“Your Company has been one of the first to use social media, another element of innovation, but in communication. What is your personal point of view about this?”
Through our website we promote ‘not only our products, but we also encourage communication between those who love our wine and want to know more about the culture and the values our wine symbolize. A wine club (www.amicidelsagrantino.it), events such as Wine Day, and a special wine exclusively sold on the net NERO OUTSIDER are some examples of the Importance that Caprai attaches to new communication technologies. But I have also the feeling that the social networks bring us closer to those who buy and consume our products. That’s why we use Facebook and Twitter.
“Now it’s fair time: after Hong Kong we have Prowein and Vinitaly. What do you think is the most important added value that comes from participating to an international wine fair as the one in Verona?”
I think Vinitaly is very important as a stage, to present yourself and your wines to the world. It ‘s an international exhibition of primary importance and offers the opportunity to get in the spoltight and meet many potential customers. Of course there is a lot of work to do before, to establish a personal market positioning, because you have to shape out your identity, figure out what you want to communicate to others and find the right way to tell them your story.
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