Dedicated to a Finer Wine World
In the three decades that their company, Banfi Vintners, has stood as America’s leading wine importer, the Mariani family has seen the wine business evolve from cottage industry to multi-national commerce. Once considered large by trade standards of the day, the privately held Banfi, with its portfolio and team updated yet consistent over the past 15 years, remains dominant despite market proliferation of empire-building mergers and corporate conglomerates. The third generation, while adding its own 21st century dynamic, holds steadfast to the principles laid out by founder John F. Mariani, Sr., in 1919: focus on a tight, closely run portfolio of brands built on strong personal relationships between producer and importer, developing category leaders.
Perhaps the greatest source of Mariani family pride is their Castello Banfi vineyard estate in Montalcino, Tuscany, named five-time “International Winery of the Year” and thirteen-time “Italian Winery of The Year” at the International Enological Concourse in Verona. Wine Enthusiast Magazine has named Castello Banfi its European “Winery of the Year” and Castello Banfi Brunellos have consistently ranked in the annual top ten pick by editors of Wine Spectator, whose readers declared it “Wine of the Year” in an online poll. Castello Banfi is the first winery in the world to be awarded international recognition for exceptional environmental, ethical and social responsibility (ISO 14001 and SA8000) as well as an international leader in customer satisfaction (ISO 9001:2000). Equally as gratifying is the praise of neighbors who credit Banfi with pioneering a new era in Brunello and bringing the wine world’s attention to Montalcino.
Banfi also tends two small vineyard estates in Piedmont: Rosa Regale for Brachetto d’Acqui and Principessa Gavia in Gavi; their wines are vinified at the family’s Banfi Piemonte winery in Strevi. It contracts with trusted growers to produce Placido premium varietal wines, which, thanks to their quality and affordability, have become America’s most loved Tuscan wines.
Banfi propelled to the top spot as importer with its 1969 introduction of Italy’s frizzante, “amabile” Riunite Lambrusco, an important varietal native to what is arguably Italy’s gourmet capital. Made by a cooperative of growers in the Emilia-Romagna region, Riunite helped introduce wine to a generation weaned on soft drinks and fruit juices. Riunite quickly took the #1 position for imports and held it for 26 years. It remains one of the most popular Italian wines in the US. Another of Banfi’s leading imports is Concha y Toro of Chile. Banfi acquired the import rights for Concha y Toro in 1988 and built it from 90,000 to 2 million cases per year in less than a decade. Concha y Toro has become Chile’s ambassador in the international wine market, setting new standards for quality across a broad range, from the value-oriented Frontera line to the “ultra premium” Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.
Banfi worked jointly with Viñedos Organicos Emiliana, an affiliate of Concha y Toro, to introduce Walnut Crest, which quickly became Chile’s #2 brand and one of America’s top imports, as well as a line of organic and biodynamic wines under the Emiliana label.
In 2009, Banfi was appointed the exclusive US distributor of top selling Italian wines Bolla and Fontana Candida. The Banfi Vintners portfolio is rounded off by the wines of two family producers in Italy: Sartori of Verona and the Cecchi family estates in Chianti and Maremma. In three niche categories, Banfi imports the Marsala wines of Florio from Italy, the sherries of Wisdom & Warter from Spain, and Stone’s Ginger Wine from England.