It is known that the wine sector is among the most appreciated when it comes to Made in Italy. Italy and France are considered the homelands of wine for economic and productive importance. The data for 2017 on the performance of the sector “tell”[i]:

Italy holds the world record with 44 million hectoliters for production compared to France with 37 million and + 35% for exports, always compared with the cousins ​​of Oltralpe. But, if we look at the data on the exported values, the situation changes:

  • France exports in value € 9 billion
  • Italy exports in value € 5.9 billion

Moreover, by comparing the average cost of wine between Italy (2.86 € / kg) and France (5.87 € / kg) it is evident that the latter applies a price twice the average of the price processed by Italian exporters.
The reasons are different and have ancient origins, but this does not imply the impossibility for Italy to increase the perception of the value of its wine in the world.

In this regard, we dedicate a focus to the US market.

The data confirm that North America loves our wine. In 2018 the Italy increased its wine exports by 6.8% in value (equal to 1.984 billion dollars) and 1.2% in quantity compared to the previous year. It’s highest growth in value in the last five years (Source: US Department of Commerce). The market share, in the last year, has increased from 31.4% to 32%, and the increase in average prices has reached an increase in the last year of + 5.4%.

New York’s ICE Director, Maurizio Forte, says that Italy must and can improve its growth margins on price. France has an average price that is about twice the price of Italy (around 12 dollars against 6).
Many say that if Italy wants to reduce this gap it must work on perception and positioning; we ask an opinion to those who know the US market and the wine sector.

Maurizio Broggi, Italian Wine Scholar™ Education Director, of the Wine Scholar Guild (it is an international school for wine education programs. La Guild offers certification programs on wines for the wine territories of France, Italy and Spain).

Mr. Broggi first, how and when the perception of Italian wine in the US market has changed. Are you an . Italian who has been living and working in this country for a long time, remembering important differences between before and today on the opinion that operators had on Italian wine?

The US market has understood that Italy does not only produce wines with a good value for money but also wines of excellent quality, capable of expressing the territory of origin and in most cases based on unique varieties that do not they are cultivated in no other part of the world.

In your opinion, first of all, what must the Italian wine sector do to affirm its value on the American market?

Communication and training are essential to learn about Italian wines in the USA. Most consumers tend to focus on Italian wines from classic wine areas, which are historically the best known, because they are the ones that have been on the market for decades. However, Italy has the good fortune of having a unique wine-growing heritage for variety of terroirs and vines. This diversity is accompanied by a certain complexity of our denominations that require more effort to be promoted and understood. A complexity that, however, as mentioned, actually represents an advantage compared to other countries; it is necessary, however, to carry on a communication of values and of what Italian wine represents today: uniqueness and quality.

Based on your experience and your profession, how much does it affect not yet attaching the right importance to figures like that of the Sommelier and / or food and wine consultants in the affirmation of Italian wine?

The figure of the sommelier in the United States has a fundamental role. He represent a very dynamic reality in the American wine and catering industry. Many are always active in the search for novelties and always ready to promote wines that can offer something new to the customer. It is a figure that in recent years has gradually increased its importance and the role played with respect to the figure that we generally find in Europe. In the United States it is no longer just about the figure that proposes and guides the choice of wines in restaurants, the sommelier has also become the one that creates and favors the trend on particular wines or denominations and is able to influence a wider audience also thanks to social media.

Net of the responsibilities of the sector and national policy in developing effective promotion actions; how much does it affect for the Italian wineries, notoriously small and medium-sized, that the supply on the US market is held by only 4 main distributors that handle more than 80% of imported wine?

Unfortunately this is also one of the limits of the American system and of the so-called ‘three-tiers’ system. It is more difficult to impose itself on small and medium-sized companies. It is here that it becomes important to be known by sommeliers, trade professionals and wine educators, participate in wine trade shows, wine competitions and take every opportunity to be known. It is essential to visit the market regularly, of course it is expensive in time and financial terms, but it is a strategy that pays off in the long run.

Now a focus on Abruzzo wine and the Colline Teramane.

Honestly, if you can give your personal opinion on Abruzzo wine and how it is perceived on the US market.

Montepulciano is the most well-known Abruzzo wine and perception in general has certainly grown positively. It is true that consumers know the more easy-drinking and fruity version, but there is always more attention and awareness of the fact that the Montepulciano grape is able to express quality peaks and character without a doubt also in the high range in Abruzzo of wines with structure, body and longevity. Moreover, white wines, in particular Pecorino, are gradually growing in presence and appreciation.

You know the Colline Teramane Montepulciano d’Abruzzo docg, do you believe there are margins of success on the US market for Montepulciano d’Abruzzo in general and the Colline Teramane brand in particular?

Surely, I think there is margins of improvement to make the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo appreciate in the US market and in particular of what is the chosen territory of Montepulciano in Abruzzo, the Colline Teramane. To achieve this goal it will be necessary to work on the aspect of promotion and “education” to make more and more wine professionas and American consumers aware of what it is, not only the average quality, now very high in Abruzzo wines, but also in what are the characteristics of uniqueness and distinction that distinguish the wines of Abruzzo. With reference to the Colline Teramane in particular, I must say that a large part of US consumers are looking for wines with a concentration and structure such as the Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. Montepulciano has the structure, power and concentration qualities that certainly reflect this segment of the market.

In June you accompanied a group of educators from all over the world to the Teramo area. Can you confirm interest and curiosity of the guests with respect to the local wine sector?

The experience was exciting. It was the first time that this group of educators visited Abruzzo. In addition to the appreciation for places, cuisine and contact with people, I must say that they were all enthusiastic about the visits to the producers and the wines tasted. They tackled viticulture issues such as the use of the Abruzzo pergola, and in-depth themes of oenology such as the use of wood for Montepulciano. It was also a great opportunity to taste different wines and styles not always easily available on the US market or other countries, such as Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo and Passerina. It was also very instructive for educators to be able to taste the Montepulciano delle Colline Teramane by comparing different vintages and styles, as well as the evolution of this wine over time.


[i] 2017: in this year there is the lowest harvest from the post-war period to today in Europe, due to adverse weather conditions