A Winery in Tuscany Tells a Story

How One Winery has Managed During the Pandemic

Established in 1967, Carpineto Winery in Tuscany can be described as a young player in the old-world wineries of Italy. It has, however, also established itself as a quality winery consistently delivering wines that are complex, full bodied and full of fruity character.  Carpineto Wines was the unlikely leader of an Italian wine revolution. By modernizing the winemaking process in the Chianti region of Tuscany, they changed the way the world viewed Chianti Classico wines. This is a winery that also depends on wine tourism alongside its international recognition. Antonio Zaccheo Jr is the son of one of the founders and tells us how they have managed to survive during the Covid 19 Pandemic.

Tell us about your winery – when it was founded, where it is and what you produce.

Our winery was built by the Sacchet and Zaccheo families. Carpineto farms is 500 hectares of sustainably farmed land, spread amongst 5 carbon neutral estates in the regions of Chianti Classico, Alto Valdarno, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino and Maremma. 

What were your thoughts when you FIRST heard about Covid 19?

We first heard of the Virus during the Anteprime in February 2020, which is a two week, very crowded series of events in Tuscany. Thousands of people from all over the world piled into small rooms tasting wine. Very fun but a very dangerous situation. Luckily no hotspots broke out then.

When did this pandemic first start affecting your business, and how?

March 11th was Italy’s lockdown and it basically killed the on premise business. No tastings, no sales, nothing. It has yet not fully recovered

What has life been like in the nearby towns in Italy?

We live in the countryside, our life has gone forward following the rhythms of mother nature as thankfully agriculture was considered an essential business, not subject to lockdown. In the farming communities, at least, we could go to work, so people had it much easier than city folks stuck at home for 3 months in a small apartment. So we’ve had a chance to really follow the vineyard operations from start to finish, and I am grateful for that. 

How have things changed?

For sure we’ve learned to play by the new rules: social distancing, frequent hand washing, etc. And, as Fall comes and you hear of hot spots flaring up here and there, even near you, folks have become even more careful and sometimes also paranoid. Until a vaccine is found I fear this will go on for a while….we’re living a new ‘normal’.

Have you changed your business to work with the pandemic?

Right now, we’ve delayed all unnecessary short term investments, have delayed long term projects and are living a bit more day to day to save on cash resources. It is a strange way to live, not knowing what will happen next and trying to be prepared for anything.

Nothing good can come of a global pandemic. I personally wished it never happened and this is the feeling of most people I’ve talked to.

What advice do you have for businesses trying to survive the pandemic?

Focus on your core business and then be very, very social. Communicate as much as you can, be creative and persistent, as you don’t want to be forgotten in the minds of your customers.

Thoughts on the future?

This too shall pass, but I fear it will take a couple of years before we get back to the ‘old’ normal.

What makes you stay optimistic?

We make wine, even in the darkest hour of lockdown people have not stopped having a good glass or two of wine. They just drink wine at home instead of in a restaurant, but wine has confirmed its status as a necessary soul pleaser. I know, we sure didn’t stop enjoying a glass of wine here at the wine farm!!!

I guess the only positive thing to come of this is, I have had no jet lag for 6 months, something that has not happened since high school! I get daily exercise and eat healthy meals with my family on a regular basis these days. Of course, I didn’t lose any weight, but that can be 2021’s life objective! We need to go easy on ourselves, don’t have to rush into unpleasant things like worrying about a covid tummy!

I am also grateful that, at the end of the day, so far this year, our sales are not as far down as we expected. We are very aware that many people and businesses have not fared this well, and we feel badly for them. This must mean that wine is not only recession proof, it is also pandemic proof! Salute!