Women In Wine Fridays: A Chat With Annalisa Zorzettig

This week’s women in wine Friday’s feature is a chat with Annalisa Zorzettig from Zorzettig Vini in Friuli Venezia Giulia, specifically in the Colli Orientali del Friuli.  I met Annalisa a few years ago during Vinitaly and had the opportunity to see her again this year at Gambero Rosso. She’s holding one of her favorite wines in this picture. I will write about the wines and the winery in another post this week but will let her  answers to my questions stand for today.

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1. How did you get into the wine business?

I didn’t get into the wine business. I was born into it. My family has been making wine for many generations and it was my destiny to be in the wine business and to work in our company. My Dad thought I would have been great in the administration of the winery and working in hospitality. However, as my passion for my region and my love for our vineyards grew, I decided I wanted to work in the cellar, in the fields, and with our clients rather than deal with bureaucratic and administrative issues. In 2006 after a family tragedy, I had to take control of the company and the way we worked. I changed our company philosophy and decided to be focused on biodiversity in the vineyards, services that we offer, our relationships with members of our staff and our hospitality points in addition to quality. I am really happy with where we are now although we still have further gains to make.

2.What has been the hardest part of the wine business for you in terms of gender issues, if any?

I haven’t found it difficult with clients. It’s crucial to just be yourself and be simple and honest. I found some issues at times with colleagues in the past at tastings or other large groups. I used to feel really small like an ant with my male colleagues but with time, I became more secure and mature and I have seen that they respect me and this has been very gratifying.

3. What trends and changes have you seen since you started? What do you see happening in the next 5-10 years in your sector of the business?

I have seen incredible changes in such a short time and so many of them. Of course it depends on the production area you come from but if we stay in Italy, for example, I think about how many producers are focusing on respecting the earth and the vines. Producers have reduced the quantities that they are making. There has been a renewed focus on indigenous varieties. Technology has changed considerably as people look to keep oxygen out of wines. Temperature controls throughout the process have also improved considerably. We have learned how to drink older wines, even white wines from Friuli that can age in the bottle. Sparkling wine consumption has exploded as a category. I think we will see an even stronger relationship between producers and consumers in the future thanks to wine tourism that has opened the door for wine lovers. It’s up the producers to transmit our knowledge and passion for the vine. Wine is a true pleasure in life and sharing it is a way of connecting with other people. This will only grow and continue. I think even super markets will grow their wine sectors in the coming years.

4. What do you see happening in Friuli?

On the one hand we are focusing on our indigenous varietals which is a good thing because then we won’t be confused with other denominations. Particularly Pinot Grigio is finally finding its own identity. We (people from Friuli) are hard workers but we must speak to each other more frequently. I have started to do this. With four other colleagues we have created an association to shed light on our Pinot Nero Friulano. During our meetings we discuss various issues and do tastings as a way to be constructive together and to create synergies for the future.

5. What do you think about the level of wine education on FVG in general?

In Friuli knowledge about wine has been handed through the generations. In our area, various wine schools and associations have been hosting classes that are very well attended. Many more people now have the qualification of Sommelier and more people are coming to visit the winery. We are on the right path.

6. Who is the average wine drinker today in Italy?

Wine drinkers today have a strong knowledge of varieties, production areas and wineries. They want a wine that gives them an emotion, that satisfies both the palate and the spirit of life.

7. Where are women going to be in the industry in the next 10 years?

I see every more women on the front lines but I think that is normal now in all sectors not just in the wine industry.

8. What do you think will happen with climate change in your area?

I often think about this issue. In our area, we will have intermittent periods of very high levels of humidity mixed with times of extreme rain and drought. Maybe I am wrong buti t is a climate and Mother Nature are a mystery that we must pay attention to as we go forward.

9. Where do you see your products in the US market? Restaurants? By the glass programs? Stores?

I think my wines would be great both in restaurants and in wine shops. Many would also work in a by the glass program.

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