On April 13th, 3 Global MBA students from the Food and Wine Track at Bologna Business School went on a special road trip, visiting the nearby lands of Veneto and Lombardia as well as farther away landscapes of Toscana, Marche, Puglia and even Sicilia while staying in the Veronese pavilions of Vinitaly and tasting wines of Italian excellence.
The variety of backgrounds of Bologna Business School’s Global MBA students is evidence of the international language that Italian education and goods embodies. Having started the Global MBA in Food and Wine in Bologna last October, the opportunity to travel to Vinitaly in Verona was too interesting for our three students.
Swati Soni is a young Indian pastry chef with 9 years of experience in French style egg-free baking. Swati went to Vinitaly wanting to be able to put to good use her newly acquired skillsets after the WSET Level II course at BBS. “It was an incredible experience to see the whole world of Italian wine under the same roof. In just a day, I got to discover several Italian wine-producing regions along with the chance to interview various cantinas as a part of my project.”
Indeed the visit to Vinitaly was part of a wider project given to the students to research the Italian wine market and document it with first-hand accounts. “Along with tasting delicious wines, I got a deeper look into what drives the Italian winemakers and markets, their competitive advantage over other wine producers from around the world, their export strategies, and what they seem to perceive as the next big trend in this industry.”
As each student came from a different country, the challenges varied greatly and offered different business perspectives. “It was interesting to see how India, despite being a nation where the culture of wine is slowly but steadily growing, remains a market that winemakers have been hesitant to enter in, mainly because of the high taxes and import duties. I’m only hoping that this changes and India too gets to experience the exceptional Italian wines.”
Lweendo Musanje enjoys wine just the same, though he comes from a different background. Having worked at the Zambian Bureau of Standards as a Microbiologist, his knowledge is more technical. “When I talked to the winemakers, I always tried to understand their quality control procedures along the production process and the supply chains…”. The high-standards and range of style in Italian winemaking is world-renowned, and tasting many wines in Verona gave Lweendo ideas of how he could bring those wines back to his home country: “In the end, I was most interested in how I could share the varieties of Italian wines on the Zambian market…”.
Our third and last student on this trip, Nicolas Switalski, was perhaps the one with the greatest expectations. “Many people have often ask me, ‘why does a Frenchman come to study wine in Italy?’ and I always reply that French wine may have a good reputation, still I want to find good wines everywhere and understand what they bring to the table. How does terroir factor into this or that wine? I always feel that difference is actually what gives us things to talk about.” In going to Vinitaly, the choices of good wines were aplenty and any aspiring taster – whether experienced or not – needs their own. “I tried to apply the same principles I use when I attend wine fairs in France; I look at independent winegrowers first, and in areas that I am not too familiar with yet, I go for one or two big names before switching back to smaller producers to gain perspective. This usually turns up some good results.” Though Italian wines are available in France at relatively accessible prices, some winegrowers prefer to stay away from the French market as they believe it is saturated, and instead work heavily with Germany.
There are many common denominators between our Italian winemakers and international students, yet one that is most remarkable is passion: as Swati puts it, “the passion with which each one of them spoke about their wines and shared their story was incredible and a great learning experience.” The other one that stands out is hard work, as nothing in winemaking (or studying) can be taken for granted.