Having a background in the wine export business as well as the restaurant, wine tourism and agricultural consulting businesses, Antonio Grimaldo has a comprehensive perspective on the wine business which he brings to his clients at Vinando Tours. A Sommelier and lover of unique food pairings, Antonio has found himself a gold mine in Lombardy, Italy that he wants to share with the rest of the world!
We had the opportunity to speak with Grimaldi about his upcoming presentation at the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference, as well as wine tourism in the Brescia Province of Lombardy, Italy. Below are his responses to our questions.
1. The world of wine tourism is getting more and more competitive and today it is not enough to be a good wine technical expert. How does Vinando Tours make the tour experience unique for the food and wine lover?
By putting the wine people at the centre of the process. Working with most of the Brescia and Lombardy wine producers as a professional winemaker, I have been able to understand their needs and desires: the different approach is to construct a project around them based on what they can and want to do. The idea is to change the perspective of wine lovers: entering the wine world from within rather than just observing it from the surface. To do so I intend to involve only producers and restaurateurs able to engage themselves directly, with no fear of showing who they are and why they work in that specific way. In few words: I try to deliver authenticity.
2. What can a traveler expect to find on a Vinando Tour in the Brescia provence in Lombardy?
A rich and varied wine and food scene, just moving around few kilometres. With its great number of lakes, moraine hills and rivers, Brescia province can prove different environments, each with its own specific identity and soul. Even more renowned Italian wine regions have difficulties in offering great sparkling and Chiarettos (still rosé wines) along with intense mineral whites and delicate yummy reds, all in a tiny place no more than 40 km long! If you add to this one of the most subtle and scented extra virgin olive oils of Italy, produced around every lake of the area, sprinkled with a cuisine with an ancient tradition, you can get the idea of what you may experience in the area. Maybe all this just facing one of the innumerable castles or villas in historical villages scattered all around!
3. You will be talking about Brescia in your talk in the 2012 International Wine Conference. Having traveled much of the world, what about the Brescia provence made you want to focus in this area?
First of all it is the area where I live, so I have been able to get in touch with many wine producers, as well as with local food lovers. Being a Florentine I know quite well what a good wine region may offer, but Tuscany cannot represent the only place in Italy for wine enthusiasts! Since I moved to Erbusco, in the heart of Franciacorta, I have noted that Brescia is a very lively and interesting place, showing diverse landscapes and rich food and wine cultures, even unknown to most of Italians! So far this area has been famous as being an industrial region only or maybe for the love of its inhabitants for motor racing: Brescia was the homeland of the celebrated Millemiglia rally and the first Italian Gran Prix of Formula One (yes, before Monza!) was run here. But all the places around here conceal so many secret jewels which expect only to be discovered and showed to the rest of the world!
4. What are you most looking forward to at the upcoming wine conference in Italy?
Getting in touch with other people dealing with the wine tourism world, especially International tour operators since it is quite difficult to reach a broad audience from a little renown (but really interesting!) area such as Brescia. I would also like to understand what is the level of wine tourism in other well established regions: I strongly believe that without a good understanding of the situation and the position achieved by others it is not possible to improve and grow.
5. What wine(s) were you be drinking over the holidays?
Well, as often happens during these moments (Christmas, New Years Eve and so on) choice is always tough! I come from Tuscany and love very much its wines, but I like to pick wines based on what I believe will be the best food match and, when possible, local productions. So I decided to select a white wine from Southern Garda produced by a friend of mine, a Lugana Superiore 2007 (made entirely from Turbiana grape), to accompany a dinner based on sauté mussels followed by tomato sauce swordfish: the richness and smoothness of the dishes “pretended” a fresh, sapid and well structured wine, as it is that Lugana. For the Sunday lunch, instead, a great Valtellina Superiore Riserva 2005 (Nebbiolo grape) will be the matching choice for a gorgeous roasted stuffed chicken and rosemary potatoes: this time lots of smooth tannins are required! As you can see, all wines from the region where I live, Lombardy, an area that produces small amounts but really interesting wines. Just consider what has been obtained in Franciacorta in less than 40 years!!
Join the International Wine Tourism Conference and network with Antonio and 200 – 300 more attendees. Antonio will be delivering a talk at the Wine Tourism Conference on January 31 at 9:30 titled: Franciacorta and Garda: a different look at Brescia wine scene.