Nearly six years ago I wrote that a new breed of tech savvy Italian wine producers were on the rise. They recognized that a spectacular era in technology was enabling artisan wine producers to communicate directly and immediately to consumers via the social Internet.
Unfortunately, the social media efforts of some wine producers have in the interim de-evolved to consist only of endless selfies and photos of bottle labels. However, the good folks at wineries Pietro Beconcini Agricola and Bele Casel are among Italy’s wine producers whom have risen smartly to the occasion by using social technology to make barriers between themselves and the consumer ever more transparent.
Via social media and Internet, tech savvy Italian wine producers are becoming educators, coaches, mentors and consumer partners in a conversation about wine and food that reaches beyond geographical boundaries. They encourage us to understand their labor, the character of their land, their source of passion, local traditions, and how their wine is born.
At Pietro Beconcini Agricola in San Miniato, Eva Bellagamba and Leonardo Beconcini make wines that are decidedly Tuscan in spirit and taste. Through the intelligent application of social technology, the pair works hard to give fans and consumers a chance to come along with them into the vineyard. The indefatigable couple shares via social media a thoughtful account of their work and life in ways that can often leave one feeling like a part of the family. On any given day, by ‘following’ Eva and Leo, say, on Facebook, one might have an opportunity to see a flowering of sangiovese, hear a lesson concerning the composition of vineyard soil, perhaps have a peek at an un-grafted tempranillo vine growing in Tuscany or experience a vicarious walk in the vineyard accompanied by the cats. What’s on for dinner? You can even check out the sizzle and smoke of an enviable bistecca hitting the grill as Eva and Leo share live video at chow time.
Grape grower and winemaker Luca Ferraro of Bele Casel is a producer of DOCG Asolo Prosecco. Luca has been a tireless communicator whose posts on social media and his website are, effectively, a diary of producer life in the Colli Asolani of Italy’s Veneto. In following Luca of Bele Casel, again, let’s say, on Facebook, ‘friends’ have an opportunity to witness a fascinating, seasonal cycle of chores and goings-on in the vineyard. Using social media tools and techniques, Luca shares with readers how he and his team tackle erosion control on the property or, through the use of video, how he handles a pair of pruning shears, with the same deftness as a cowboy handles a pistol, to prune back grapevines in the winter vineyard. And it’s not all wines and vines, either. For example, whether it is the rather touching occasion of chicks being born in the vineyard – a good sign of healthy biodiversity – or an update on local vineyard weather conditions, Luca manages to capture and share a 360 degree view of his world with readers.
Although Beconcini and Bele Casel wineries grow different grapes, make different wines, and operate in different parts of Italy, they are linked by a common thread of sorts: both producers engage their social media followers with an inviting spirit, extending a “part of the family” kind of virtual hospitality, and are willing to share their humanness and a bit of life with genuine transparency. The invitation to “join” them as they carry out their seasonal work as farmers and wine producers could be improved upon only, perhaps, by traveling to the wineries.
But, beyond general interest and curiosity, there is a greater and deeper value in staying connected to wine producers like Bellagamba, Beconcini and Ferraro. Education has become, and continues to be, a cornerstone of appreciating and enjoying the fine wines of Italy and elsewhere. Following the likes of Beconcini and Bele Casel on social media can be incredibly instructive in this regard, enabling consumers to gain a better understanding of the many steps and processes that comprise grape growing and wine production. And that knowledge can help illuminate and even determine what you, the consumer, are paying for at the wine shop.
While Pietro Beconcini Agricola and Bele Casel set fine examples of consumer-engaged producers of Italian wines, I am happy to say that there are more like them. The new breed of Italy’s tech savvy wine producers is helping to shape markets and to create a more informed, independent, selective wine consumer capable of making better purchase decisions.
Beconcini Chianti Riserva
A traditional styled Chianti Riserva, smooth and expressive, with rich fruit and velvety palate.
Bele Casel Prosecco Extra Dry
Crisp and bright, perfumed of pear, apple, and citrus-florals, a magnificent bottle of refreshing pleasure.