Majestic Wine: 5 Questions With Valle dell’Acate Owner Gaetana Jacono
“Life is too short to drink bad wine,” stated Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Celebrating excellence in wine is the rally cry for Vinitaly, the largest wine exhibition in the world. Attended every year in Verona, Italy, by producers, importers, restaurateurs and journalists, all participants are eager to share and discover new trends and exchange ideas on this internationally recognized Italian tradition of excellence. Once again the city of Romeo and Juliet is the world’s wine capital this week, where from April 15-18 Verona is transformed into a prestigious world-class showcase of the best of the best in Italian wines.
Valle dell’Acate, a Sicilian company boasting a winemaking tradition of excellence spanning six generations, is also present at this important wine fair with Bellifolli, a new family of brilliant light wines made up of four types—Nero d’Avola, Syrah, Insolia, Grillo & Chardonnay—distilled so as to appeal to the tastes of today’s Millennials.
An ambitious project launched last March within the splendid setting of the Spazio Serbelloni in Milan, Valle dell’Acate not only intends to make Bellifolli an icon of Italian conviviality, but it has also embarking on a plan to grow the brand and its business and is collaborating with Interbrand on that journey.
In our latest Q&A, Gaetana Jacono, the owner of Valle dell’Acate—located near Acate, a town in the Ragusa province, on the edge of southeastern Sicily—recounts how the Bellifolli line was created and how she decided, with courage and determination, to bring Sicilian wines to the tables of the younger generation and towards international markets.
Gaetana, Valle dell’Acate is a brand of Sicilian origin that is capturing the taste of wine lovers around the world. How was the idea of creating the new Bellifolli line born?
It was born for two reasons. The first, a reflection following the success of Frappato in Italy and all over the world: a fresh, light wine. A red wine to also have with fish and that goes well with many international cuisines and liked by young people. The second reason is that young people are not so keen on wine—they drink more beer and are starting, to my dismay, to eat while drinking aperitifs. So I thought of creating the right wines for them, but also of the need for an appealing image with a strong link to the Ragusa region of Sicily.
Bellifolli wines have been presented as an expression of the conviviality that represents modern-day consumer tastes, especially of Millennials. What was the initial reaction of the public and that of the experts present at Vinitaly?
Bellifolli was a great success, following its initial presentation, as an aperitif, to underline the most appropriate time to consume these wines when, with an ad hoc tasting, we highlighted their characteristics: freshness, lightness and aroma. We are experiencing the same success now too, at Vintaly, but with continuous tasting all day long. Such a colourful, modern image with a theme—that of baroque masks—masterly revisited by Interbrand, has been deeply appreciated. It’s the initial, positive and curious approach that attracts the audience, culminating in the tasting that makes attendees really enthusiastic. A victory!
Bellifolli’s brand expresses the spirit of Sicilian wine, reinterpreting it with a contemporary touch. How did you arrive at this decision?
Bellifolli sums up the contrasts that characterise the region of Sicily—beauty and eccentricity, light and shadow, the stormy sea and the typical room of the sirocco that found its expression in one of the wonders of this island—its baroque legacy. As a child, I walked through the streets of our cities protected by the masks that explode from the top of the buildings. We Sicilians have lived alongside these masks for hundreds of years, they are a part of our everyday life. They narrate, whisper, observe. Interbrand has knowingly interpreted this insight of ours in a contemporary vein.
Considering the success of Frappato in the United States—the light red wine defined by the Americans as a “Smile Wine”—how do you see the future of Bellifolli overseas?
America is a big country, made up of states that greatly differ due to their culture, degree of modernity and also the relationship between food and wine. Bellifolli embodies modernity regarding taste and image, in the pleasure of conviviality, but also exemplifies a strong bond with Valle dell’Acate, that in America is identified as a boutique winery of excellence. The wines are made from our grapes, there is our guarantee of quality. There is the Ragusa region with its baroque masks, there is a skill solidly anchored to Sicily and to the history of Valle dell’Acate which, from 2018, has also been awarded an organic certificate for its vineyards. Lastly, there’s a personal outlook on the world, that’s always been there since I have been in the company.
Valle dell’Acate expresses a winemaking tradition of excellence and boasts an experience bound closely to the land of Sicily and its millennia-old wine-growing culture. How do these aspects influence your growth plan at international level?
I have a big dream: a modern, eco-sustainable company. We are proceeding along this path. Luckily, the path is a long one. Our wealth and our bond are six generations of agricultural entrepreneurship in a world, that of wine production, which has seen a radical transformation, a revolution. The point of departure to reformulate a modern enterprise was the land. And the “7 lands for 7 wines” project was set up. Since I have been in a charge of the company (20 years), our production has increased from 30,000 to 300,000 bottles.
During this period we have refurbished the historic buildings, the wine press and the age-old storeroom, places that tell our history—not as museums, but places that express our skill and know-how. Our home, the place where we welcome the whole world so that it can know about our traditions.
Today we are responsible for a better, more sustainable future, but the challenges continue, even if they are different from those of the past. The key word is innovation. An enterprise cannot exist without sustainable innovation. It was not by chance that we chose Interbrand, as it has always contributed to brand and business growth. So the future projects Valle dell’Acate shall implement with Interbrand will be designed for the purpose of growing our company and highlighting the superb quality of our wine and the significance of our origins.
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