Handling over 100,000 bottles in multiple wineries.
I’ve been looking forward to getting into this topic but it is probably the most difficult to summarise in one page. My current work models come from my 20 years’ experience; 34 vintages in seven countries, across over 55 varieties, 23 companies and a couple of hundred labels.
Experience takes time, dedication and a lot of trouble shooting, incorporating winemaking mistakes, terroir learning, equipment failure, real time decision making, tasting, grape interpretation and more.
Experience is always necessary, especially when the budget is limited and some mistakes have to be avoided. Quality management, timing and efficiency are also equally important; here is where an independent consultant winemaker can provide the best solution.
A new born winery can easily take 5-10 years to establish its brand and at least 10 years to be profitable.
The wise way to cut corners, is to work with navigated professionals to avoid beginners’ mistakes and drastically speed up growth whilst simultaneously reducing some of the pressure allowing a better night’s sleep and becoming profitable as soon as possible.
Working smoothly and efficiently with a good quality plan can change the game.
I’ve enjoyed my winemaking career from day two after a wine tasting about 23 years ago at the Viticulture and Winemaking Institute in Marsala (Italy). During those years I have great professors that really changed my life, such as: Nicola Trapani, Pietro De Vita, Ercole Alagna, Alfonso Sanfilippo… I was 19 and I worked non-stop harvest after harvest while attending the university in Italy, Spain and Chile.
I was lucky enough to start working with a number of newly established small wineries assisting two well known consultants of the area, Vincenzo Bambina and Nicola Centonze; they taught me a lot. Then I started working in different countries with the purpose of learning languages, different approaches and creating as much ‘experience’ as possible. I worked with some big players like Pernod Ricard and Indevin in New Zealand, Constellations Wines in Australia and Bodega Familia Zuccardi in Argentina producing over 25 millions bottles a year. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with other well recognised consultants nationally and internationally like Alberto Antonini,
Carlo Ferrini and Ricardo Godoy.
Small wineries taught me the love of winemaking while working with big wineries gave me multiple opportunities to learn and a different perspective of how to manage quality, organise processes and work efficiently with other people.
My first love are small wineries where I can touch every step with my hands. Working in the UK, where everything is new, just about to take some shape and not linked to traditions, has been a great way to express myself.
Flexible work model
Every winery is a living organism with its environment, style, philosophy and requires to be studied individually.
My work models keep evolving all the time according to circumstances with 24/7 support. Here is a simplified summary:
- Hands off
- Hands on
- Contract winemaking
This approach is for those wineries who need to be guided in their decision making from the vineyard to the bottle or for specific projects: like a new wine, machinery set up, identifying the potential of their vineyard, R&D, blending etc. They might need senior support and have their own winemaker.
This model can include all the above and the following from grape to bottle and it’s the most comprehensive. It’s for those wineries who do not have a full time winemaker and want to save about 50%-70% on a full time role. In this scenario, I act as a full time winemaker and I might also bring one of my junior winemakers with about 5-10 years of experience to work closely with me. Most of the UK wineries don’t actually need a full time winemaker while many winemakers would enjoy working with multiple wineries.
This approach can vary a lot from simple production advice, to blending decisions or, financial efficiency applied to the workflow.
For example, there are wineries that only want me as an “insurance” for problem solving/opportunity identification and troubleshooting. They might need senior support, have their own winemaker or want to learn how to make wine themselves.
Many vine growers have the dream of seeing their grapes turned into wine while not having the possibility or the intention to establish a winery.
This can happen to wine lovers too, who wish to make wine without having a vineyard
and/or a winery.
In this case I can provide my skills, a house for the wines and work together with them as their winemaker. This approach can also include all the above in various combinations.
Looking for a UK based wine consultant? Salvatore Leone is already working with some award winning vineyards and would be happy to discuss your project.
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