Our relationship with Azienda Macario began when Dan met Giovanna and her then thirteen year old daughter Giulia at the World Wine Meetings in Chicago in the spring of 2014. Dan was struck by the honesty and innocence of them both, as they tried to enter the competitive global marketplace with their down-to-earth and approachable wines from the Monferrato hills near Asti in Piemonte. It is not uncommon to see two generations representing a family domain at a trade show like this but for young Giulia to be the voice of her family’s vineyards and doing most of the communicating in English, was most impressive. After that meeting, we remained in touch and earlier this year, I popped by Giovanna’s booth at ViniSud in Montpelier to meet her personally. I found Giovanna to be both impassioned, genuine and possessing a quiet strength. I walked away determined to help bring her extraordinary wines to a larger audience. I had made plans to meet them in person, taste their full range and visit the property, so this year’s harvest seemed like the perfect opportunity for that.
We arrived on a beautiful day in mid September, driving through Nizza Monferrato then into the hills surrounding the tiny village in the region of Asti. Expecting our arrival, Giulia greeted us and thus began the tour of the estate, the wine making facilities and their vineyards. They were well into their harvest and had been working the Dolcetto vines earlier that day but made time to prepare for us and did so with great warmth and enthusiasm. As we stood amidst one of the Barbera plots, it wasn’t lost on me, this significant first meeting on the land that signifies not only their home and history, but their livelihood. I was well aware of the role we, as their importer would play in their commercial success. They don’t NEED us, but they do need and deserve a partner that respects more than the wine alone, that can tell their story properly and do service to their craft and dedication to it. Dan and I aren’t merely salesmen, but ambassadors and extensions of the values and efforts of the wines we represent.
Following the tour we tasted through the entire range, which includes Grignolino, Dolcetto, Cortese, Chardonnay, Freisa, as well as their Moscato d’Asti, Brachetto d’Acqui, and Barbera d’Asti.
The next morning, I brought my camera to shoot the harvest and also to record a video that we’ll feature on our website. It was incredible to watch three generations at work, hand harvesting the grapes, with Nonna (Giovanna’s mother), shears in hand, still leading the charge at age 76 years of age. What an incredible woman with a zest for life and sense of humor that is infectious (she later laughed like a mischievous imp as I pressed my locked arms against the dashboard of her Nissan 4×4 while descending the steepest of their vineyards, fearing we would topple end over end).
What followed might seem like a typical tale of the galavanting importer in the Old World, but for me, the authenticity of joining the family for a simple three hour, four course lunch after the harvest in their home, spoke to the core of the “why” of what we do. The sharing of food, wine, and community, is what makes this more profound than margins, sku’s and case count discounts. Our “strategy” is to use our skills and efforts to bring the Macario passion, expression and generosity of spirit in the form of that delicious gift of great wine to your glass.