Harry Mariani was family proprietor and President Emeritus of Banfi Vintners of Old Brookville, NY, and the Castello Banfi vineyard estate of Montalcino, Tuscany, from 1964 until his passing in January 2016.
Following graduation from Colgate University in 1959, Mr. Mariani, who was born and raised in Garden City, L.I., joined Banfi, an American family-owned wine business, where he learned every aspect of the trade from wine judging through marketing, sales, finance and administration. He was named President in 1964. Over the next three decades, he and his brother John, an equal partner in the firm, expanded Banfi from a small wine house into America’s leading importer of fine wines. They also founded two highly successful vineyard estates in Italy, Castello Banfi of Montalcino, Tuscany, and Vigne Regali of Strevi, Piedmont. Until his death, Harry remained active as counsel to the third generation of family management:: his son James and niece Cristina, who share the title of co-CEO. He was inducted into the Italian Trade Commission’s Hall of Fame for “outstanding leadership, contribution, and lifelong dedication to the appreciation, education and marketing of Italian wines in the US.”
Mr. Mariani also served on the board of the Banfi Foundation, the company’s philanthropic arm, which contributes annually to leading national charities and takes an active interest in higher education. The Foundation has endowed the Banfi chair of Wine Education and Management at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and the Chair of Economics at Colgate University themed to the American economy and the free enterprise system. Scholarships, fellowships and grants-in-aid are also given each year to Cornell, The Culinary Institute of America and a dozen other colleges and universities around the country.
An occasional lecturer, Mr. Mariani took particular pride in having been invited to address a 750-member wine class at Cornell on two occasions and once to the graduation class of The Culinary Institute.
Mr. Mariani was a trustee of Colgate University from 1987 until 1996 and served as chairman as well as trustee emeritus of the school’s Student Affairs Committee. He also served on the board of Huntington Hospital, Huntington, NY; was an associate member of the Cornell Society of Hotelmen; and a trustee of the Cornell Society’s Foundation.
A dedicated husband, father, grandfather, and generous philanthropist, we raise a glass to his memory and keep his warm smile in our hearts.