Fifty years of DOC and a bright future ahead. Franciacorta celebrates its fifty years of controlled origin designation by planning for the future, through a study conducted with sociologist Domenico De Masi, designed to outline developments from now until 2027. The results were presented today at a conference held at L’Albereta, moderated by Maria Latella, with participants including entrepreneurs like Andrea Illy (president of Altagamma) and Oscar Farinetti (founder and creator of Eataly), scholars like Roberta Garibaldi (University of Bergamo) and Andrea Rea (Bocconi University, Milan) and trade journalists like Federico Quaranta (Decanter - RAI Radio Due) and Karin O’ Keefe (Wine Enthusiast). The institutions were represented by the Governor of the Lombardy Regional Authority, Roberto Maroni.
Vittorio Moretti, President of the Consorzio Franciacorta: A study to guide us in planning our future
As Vittorio Moretti, President of the Consortium, said in his opening remarks, "As winemakers and businessmen, in Franciacorta we have applied ourselves with determination and farsightedness, working to make this area a locus of excellence at the international level. Our vineyards have re-shaped the land, giving it a unique character. We have invested in the land and in the wine cellars, with the aim of ensuring that our clientele will enjoy a product of superior quality, that brings pleasure and satisfaction. Now, with this study, we look to the future and plan our actions over the next ten years. We want to do this together with those in public service who look upon this area benevolently, recognizing its success in creating a system that is a unique combination of winemaking, hospitality and environmental tourism".
The De Masi method and the positive projections
Programming the future is, after all, fundamental in a highly dynamic post-industrial society such as the one we live in. The concept was underscored by Dr. Domenico De Masi, a sociologist, in presenting the results of the study, "which is the first of its kind for a consortium, but a model that has already been applied in many other business contexts", based on the conviction that the people with the most information pertinent to predicting future developments are those already operating in that context as protagonists. And the more than 1000 responses collected during the study, subdivided into a dozen different topics – ranging from wine to production and distribution processes, the area and tourism, marketing and communication – “convey an optimism that I have never experienced in other contexts".
Farinetti: be the first to introduce organic methods in your production code
The study’s findings reflect a realistic optimism among Franciacorta’s entrepreneurs. In fact, the steps taken thus far have already yielded extremely positive results: "You have to be able to imitate, to see a valid example and adapt it to your conditions,” offered Oscar Farinetti. “And here in Franciacorta you’ve been very adept at copying our French cousins, to the point where the quality of your products rivals that of Champagne. Now the time has come to take a further step, adding something to the product that gives it a distinct identity, something that makes the difference, that is strongly associated with the territory. It is essential to be unique, and recognized as such.”
“As a Consortium you are role-models, because you started off on the right foot, promoting shared projects.” He continued, “The global wine market, worth 70 billion dollars at present, will triple in value over the next ten years, and although vineyards will spring up in new countries, the Italians and the French are in a position to divide the lion’s share amongst themselves. The secret lies in making yourself stand out, and to accomplish this, we must pack our products with intangible value. The direction to take clearly leads towards cleanliness and organic methods, but a local identity must be added as well. And so I launch a challenge to the Consortium: be the first to include organic methods in your production rulebook“.
Illy: Franciacorta is emblematic of Made in Italy excellence
Franciacorta as the emblem of Made in Italy excellence. As underscored by Andrea Illy, president of Altagamma: ”Prosecco cannot represent quality, tradition and top-of-the-line excellence. That role is played by Franciacorta. Italy is the land of beauty, creativity and culture. And its beauty can exalt the product and the expertise. The French are better versed financially and in distribution, but in terms of product, we have a leg up. Franciacorta wine and the Franciacorta area can epitomize the Italian ‘dolce vita’. Let us graciously leave the aperitif to Prosecco and the special occasions to Champagne”.
Rea: Franciacorta buyers are looking for a unique and memorable experience
Along the same lines, Andrea Rea adds: “Today, the world of wine is firmly integrated with food and tourism. In this scenario, with Italy as the stage, Franciacorta can be the orchestra, and the wineries the individual musicians. But you must build a territorial identity, the only factor capable of making the difference. In fact, when a consumer purchases a Franciacorta wine, he or she is looking for a unique and memorable experience. That’s what makes it important to be different, to invest in a distinguishing identity, holistically, so that the consumer will remember it. And this is also true for digital consumers." Insofar as the markets to target, Rea puts the United States ahead of China: "The Chinese market must be approached very carefully, in terms of both online and offline distribution. Distribution shouldn’t be delegated, because there is a risk of losing identity".
O’Keefe: Target the American market with zero dosage wines and local varietals
Karen O’Keefe joins those who suggest studying the American market more closely: ”Right now, Franciacorta wines don’t have much exposure in wine shops, and their visibility among consumers is insufficient. On the other hand, once it is sampled in a restaurant, the product is highly appreciated. I therefore suggest that you invest in increasing visibility and awareness of Franciacorta in the United States, differentiating it from Champagne, perhaps by emphasizing the zero dosage wines or experimenting with indigenous varietals, like Erbamat. This hand in hand with developing tourism: you have unique resources that should be promoted”.
Garibaldi: the food&wine tourist, a target to aim for
Valorizing the territory has been the goal of a project like East Lombardy for years: ”East Lombardy,” explained Roberta Garibaldi, “has shown that it is both possible and necessary to create networks that promote enogastronomy and attract tourism with a sustainable approach. The food&wine tourist is looking for experiences associated with food and culture. And this consumer profile is in pronounced growth, in Italy and the world”.
Quaranta: reaching the younger generations and conveying a message of value
Take the authentic values of the area as a point of departure: this is the core of the message received by Federico Quaranta from the survey conducted by Decanter, with the involvement of about 1 million and 200 thousand people. The survey findings showed that 23% would like an organic Franciacorta wine, 18% a sustainable Franciacorta, 17% a Franciacorta that is ethical, esthetic and expresses its territory of origin and 10% a Franciacorta with its own identity. “But there is still work to be done, because 12% of consumers have never even heard of Franciacorta,” Quaranta said. “Insofar as the younger set, they tend to be more informed and knowledgeable, but they are also very proud of Italian excellence in the world. We have to reach them and convince them: that is our aim”.
Maroni: Lombardy’s commitment to valorize the territory, tourism and vineyard cultivation
It is not by chance that the Lombardy Regional Authority has invested significant resources in tourism in recent years: ”Our region is famous for its dynamic industrial sector,” underscored Governor Roberto Maroni, “but it also has extraordinary potential in agriculture, tourism and cultural attractions. In 2016 we were the venue for the world’s most important cultural and tourist event, right here on Lake Iseo. In addition, we have no less than 11 UNESCO World Heritage sites here in Lombardy. The regional government invested 30 million euro in promoting tourism in Lombardy, and this year we are doing the same with culture. There’s a long way to go, but we’re on the right path. And we have to accomplish this without creating friction between the many players in the region.” This is the purpose of the Franciacorta PTRA plan, approved unanimously last July by the Regional Council: ”It’s an instrument of use in governing this territory while valorizing its special nature as a producer of wine and oil. A decision shared among 22 municipalities, which recognize the pivotal role of agriculture in Franciacorta. Equally important is the agreement we signed with 13 municipalities on Lake Iseo for the creation of a bicycle path 60 kilometers long, an investment worth 10 million euro.” ”I ask the Consortium,” concluded Maroni, “to be more than an organization devoted to protection, and to take care of promotion as well, in a virtuous synergy of public and private structures”.