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Selling ‘Green’ Wine

“There’s an old peasant proverb: ‘Leave the land a little better than you found it,’” said Stefano Cantelmo, head engineer for Montevibiano Vecchio Winery in Italy.

Standing 20 feet below ground level, Umbra Institute students listened carefully to Cantelmo as he leaned on one of the 85 oak barrels full of new wine. The students visited the winery on Friday during a field trip for the Business of Food in Italy course, which focuses on the differences in production, distribution, and consumption in the Italian food sector.

After showing the students the barrels in the winery’s cantina, Cantelmo described his work.

“I designed the sustainability project for the winery,” he explained. “We use both high-tech (e.g., solar cells and biodiesel) and low-tech (passive cooling and roofs painted white) to reduce our carbon footprint. And in 2010, we were certified zero emissions.”

Montevibiano has since won a Slow Food award for sustainable winemaking and an award for wine quality – a great combination for a winery, according to CEO Lorenzo Fasola Bologna.

“We started the project because zero emissions was the right thing to do for the environment, and it was the right thing for the winery in terms of visibility,” he explained after offering the students a ride on the solar-powered golf carts to see the wineries’ vines.

Bologna and Cantelmo are interested in the possibility of selling the eco-friendly wine in the U.S. market. 

After Friday’s field trip, the Umbra students — many of whom are in the Umbra Institute’s Food Studies Program — will create two proposals for the Montevibiano Winery and two concepts for marketing the “green” wine in the U.S.

“‘Green’ isn’t the typical color you think of when you think wine, but we think it’s an even more important color than red or white, in the long run,” Nowak joked. “Montevibiano’s wine is the perfect marriage of tradition — their castle is over 1000 years old — and innovation. The students’ proposals will be focused on how to make eco-wine popular in the U.S., to promote responsible consumption that helps the earth.

His students said the field trip complemented both their course and semester at the Umbra Institute.

“It was crucial to our business class,” Madeline Vering said. “It really connects schoolwork to practical, real-life experience.”

“Today was a great addition to the overall experience of my study abroad program,” agreed Ivan Krayniy. “The drive to the vineyard, the golf cart drive, the tour of the production facility, and finally the tasting gave me a great idea of the business and culture of wine in Umbria.”

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