How a Love Story Inspired this 86-Year-Old Wine Company
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Friday, September 3rd marks National Chianti Day. Vittorio Marzotto of Santa Margherita USA sat down with Jessica Abo to share his family's history, the vineyard and company's future and his advice for other family-run operations.
Jessica Abo: Take us back to the beginning. How did a love story inspire your family's business?
Vittorio Marzotto: The family history started in 1935, when my great-grandfather, Gaetano Marzotto, dreamed of nature, people and technology working in synergy and his dream came to life when he began revitalizing an abandoned land in the Venetian countryside that he chose as a productive soil for agriculture. It needed reclaiming, so he put a lot of effort into that, and he nailed it. Such an aspirational place could only bear one name, his wife's name, Margherita, hence the name Santa Margherita.
How has social responsibility and sustainability played a role in your family business over the years?
Gaetano's vision that we continue today was to respect the land for the quality of the product that goes into the glass and the people who work the land and who have the passion. In a few words, he was very committed to providing a livelihood to his employees and contributing to their quality of life by building a hospital, a school and vacation homes where the employees could take their families to relax and enjoy.
On the environmental side, we were operating with sustainable practices even before the term was created. We did things like reducing the level of chemicals in the vineyards and reducing the CO2 footprint throughout the glass production, from the container for the bottle to the actual bottle of wine. He built a factory, a glass producer, a stone's throw away from the winery.
How do you think people, nature and technology play a role in the company 86 years later?
Tradition at Santa Margherita has always been at the cutting edge of wine-making, but today we really want to become a pioneer when it comes to energy savings with reducing carbon emissions, as well as water preservation. Solar panels allow the winery to be self-sufficient in terms of energy. We also built a biomass power plant that recycles renewable energy from the sediments of agriculture. We have a lot of practices in our wine-making: no chemicals, no animal agents. We have water conservation techniques in the field, in the vineyards and in the cellar.
Your family decided to found National Chianti day. What did that process involve?
You need to apply initially to the National Day Calendar and write an essay on why you would like to have a national day. It is very rare to get a seat at the table. Only 15 days are open every year. We were lucky enough last year to have National Chianti Day approved. For the first year, and now every year, on the first Friday of September, we will be celebrating National Chianti Day.
You have several family members who are working for the company. What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who are running family-owned businesses?
My advice is to communicate with each other as much as you can. My family's passion, dedication, time and effort to work together are the essential ingredients to our success. We never forget what our great-grandfather told us regarding the vision and the principles that we must commit and keep up today.