By @SimonCocking

Describe the company – the elevator pitch …

Primo Re is an organic boutique winery in Apulia, Southern Italy. The company is run exclusively by its owners, a young couple that after years of living abroad decided to come back to Italy and put all their efforts into this business, investing everything they have in their own land and territory.

How are you different?

We truly believe in Organic Agriculture and, conversely to what you can normally find in our market, we are not launching just “a line” of organic wine for commercial reasons, but our entire company is organic, including all our almost 14 acres of vineyards, plus our 300 olive trees, fruit trees and even the vegetables we grow in the courtyard.

Moreover, we believe that all wine lovers should be able to enjoy our wines, despite their ethical or dietetic choices. That’s why we invested time and money to register all our products at The Vegan Society®, the very first international association that guarantees vegans and vegetarians that our wines use no animal derived products or by-products.

On the other hand, we strongly believe in the power of creating a network between wine lovers, not only to exchange tasting notes or names of brands, but to establish a big community that shares its passion for wine in many different aspects. That’s why we created an original Wine Club, where real wine enthusiasts share original contents about food, cinema, music, literature and art, all related somehow with wine.

It’s a unique kind of Wine Club that no other winery is currently proposing; it’s based on sharing-economy principles, because contents are created by wine lovers, and not only for them; there’s no copy-pasting of articles from other sources, no know-it-all-blogger writing about every subject, so the whole concept is more realistic and unique.

Finally, our company is different because we are different. We’ve been living in six countries in the last four years, sharing experiences with people from all over the globe, and that helped us to see the world with different eyes. We strongly believe in a renewed approach to wine, less snobby and elitist, but close to real people’s needs, opinions and desires.

Why will the company / product do well?

We want to believe that when you know what you’re doing, and you put all your efforts, strengths and abilities to reach your objective, you succeed.

We have a strong background in wine production, we care about the environment and respect not only our local traditions but also everybody’s needs and ethical choices, and we work hard in order to get hight quality despite of quantity.

We managed to produce an excellent, genuine and safe wine, and we’re currently working hard in communicating our views and ideas to all wine enthusiasts. If they answer as we believe they will, then our boutique winery will do more than well.

Where are you based?

We’re in Brindisi province, in an area called “Salento”, part of Apulia Region, the heel of the Italian boot.

The Salento peninsula is a very sunny area where viticulture has been practised since 2.000 BC. The typical Mediterranean weather, with strong winds and low rainfall, together with the influence of both seas (Adriatic and Ionian), makes Salento an excellent area to produce wine. Intense temperature changes between day and night help Salentinian grapes ripen slowly, enhancing aromas to form a persistent and unforgettable bouquet.

Our soil is characteristically red, rich in ferrous components, with clay and limestone layers that produce generous, full-bodied, velvety and flavoursome wines.

When was the company launched?

We’ve been dreaming about launching our own winery since we met in Argentina in 2009; we then moved to Italy where Nicola’s family had vineyards with the purpose of producing our wine, but we couldn’t start our own business as a financial crisis was hitting Italy hard and it was impossible for young people like us to save enough money.

So, we decided to start travelling, in the hope of finding a way of fulfilling our dream. We lived in Argentina, Scotland, England, France and Romania, combining voluntary working with regular paid jobs in different wineries. Years went by but in 2016 we managed to save enough money, so we moved back to Italy to start our organic boutique winery.

But it wouldn’t be that easy. Italian bureaucracy is notorious for being backwards and we know it for sure. Several months ago we applied for some Regional funding in order to buy some agricultural machinery; only later we knew that we couldn’t sell our wines before getting the results of the funding. We don’t need that funding to launch our wines, but – as crazy as it may seem – for Italian law, a young company that applied for this particular funding is not allowed to sell any products (i.e. wines) until the Government decides the destination of the funding.

And when will it be that? Nobody knows. Funding requests were supposed to be accepted until mid-November 2016 but currently, in February 2017, the Government hasn’t even started to accept them, because its official website is not working properly.

So now we have to wait for the Italian Government to fix the website, open the call for requests, close the call, check all the requests received and finally communicate the results. Until they won’t do that, our wines must stay in the warehouse.

Moreover, in the meantime, Nicola – that is, the official company owner – can’t legally work or accept any other job as an Enologist!

Now we’d love to ask the readers if they’ve ever heard about a more crazy bureaucracy than the Italian one.

What have been your biggest wins to date?

Our wine is not yet in the market but still we have other wins to date, like the success of our Wine Club concept. It started as a test, we posted things on Instagram and Facebook like “Do you like wine and cinema? If yes, contact us”, and soon we started to receive lots of emails from wine enthusiasts willing to share their stories, recipes, film and books reviews. We’ve even met some of them personally and became friends.

Also little things sometimes just make our day, like an email from a wine enthusiast from the US asking if he could buy our T-shirts because he loved our story and our logo!

What type of people (market segment) are you trying to attract to your product?

Our wine has its own personality, its own history behind it. As explained before, all our wines are certified organic, and suitable for vegans and vegetarians. That means that we put a lot of attention in taking care of the environment, working only with native grape varieties, and respecting everybody’s ethics.

We produce high quality wines for any enthusiast that seeks a genuine and healthy product, that was produced in the respect of the environment, considering the local viticulture traditions and the choices of every wine lover.

That’s the kind of people we know will appreciate our wines.

Tell us about your team?

Nicola is the wine grower and wine maker, responsible for every aspect of the wine production. He has a former education with the highest Italian degree as an Enologist, which means 5 years of university; he got a bachelor degree in Tuscany and then a master degree in Piedmont. He also worked as a winemaker in different wineries and countries since he graduated, which helped him to create a strong background in wine industry.

Nicola also has many years of practical experience at the vineyards, as we could say “he grew up” between the vines helping his father. His family has been involved in viticulture since at least five generations, so we can assure he knows what he’s doing.

Natalia holds a degree in Veterinary Medicine, but hasn’t worked as a Vet since many years. Instead, she’s been involved in communication, web developing and marketing industries, but also collaborating in the vineyards and with organic agriculture.

She’s been learning about wine industry since he met Nicola, who is a passionate teacher, further increasing her knowledge by successfully passing with distinction the WSET Level 2 examination, and currently studying for Level 3. (WSET = Wine and Spirits Education Trust)

What are your long term plans for your product / company?

This year we should launch our first two red wines and, hopefully, plant some new hectares of two different native grape varieties called Susumaniello (a black grape variety) and Verdeca (a white grape variety). These are part of a future project that includes the developing of different blends of reds, a white wine and a very special rosé wine.

In the meantime, we plan to start building our brand new winery in a family land, near the vineyards. For this, we trust to obtain some funds through a Regional funding program and also through a crowdfunding project that we will launch on KickStarter or similar.

What are your favourite tech gadgets?

There’s only the two of us so there’s a lot of job to do; we rely then, the most we can, in technology.

For Nicola some tools are a must, specially for organic viticulture. The one that he loves the most is a weather station that provides real-time data, allowing him to instantly monitor weather conditions at a specific vineyard.

Natalia deals with communication, website developing, social network managing and marketing, so she pass the whole day at one of her computers. She does use the smartphone and the laptop, but she admits she prefers her big 21” display to work, specially when she’s dealing with graphic design and long presentations. Her favourite gadget is indeed her desktop PC.

What tech gadgets do you wish you could use to help you?

Whatever makes the job easier and faster is very welcome in the vineyards. Nicola would love to use a mobile application linked with the weather station tool, that could provided not only real time information but also a prediction model of what exactly will happen at a certain vineyard given the current weather conditions (for example, if temperature continues to be this low, grapes won’t fully ripen at the proper time).

Natalia believes she has everything she needs for working, but would love to have a proper wine cellar to store their favourite bottles. She dreams with a high-tech wine fridge she’s seen in the US, with an inbuilt computer to tell you what you have left and which vintage you’re running low.

Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?

We want to thank you for the opportunity of tell our story to your readers. Starting a business can be a nightmare sometimes but we believe that, by arming ourselves with a lot of patience and courage, everything is possible.

How do people get in touch with you?

Wine lovers can write us at [email protected]. We’re fluent in English, Italian and Spanish. We can also provide information about our company in French, German, Czech and Russian.

We’re active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

For joining our Wine Club people can visit and complete the form; only an e-mail is needed, and information will be sent also in English.

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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