Buglioni: From Ready-To-Wear To Ready-To-Wine
An abundance of grapevine production proved a fortunate surprise for Italian sportswear designer Alfredo Buglioni when he purchased an old country farmhouse in Valpolicella Classico in 1993. With no knowledge of how to prune, pick, or process 10 acres of grapes, let alone how to make wine from the juice, Buglioni embarked on a passion project that would become one of the region’s most celebrated brands.
As the Buglionis settled into part-time country life—a far cry from the rapid pace of managing 50 clothing boutiques throughout Italy—they found themselves occupied by an unexpected windfall of fruit. Enlisting the help of their garment company employees, who had to be instructed in the intricacies of harvesting, the family delivered the grapes to local winemakers, free of charge, so that it would not go to waste.
By befriending neighboring farmers and offering company employees extra work during the harvest, the family kept up this tradition for seven years before Alfredo and son Mariano devoted themselves to the process full-time, shifting their focus from fashion to winemaking. Along with Celestino Gaspari, a consultant who worked for his father-in-law Giuseppe Quintarelli (a pioneer in Amarone production), the father-and-son team built a wine cellar below the farmhouse and began production. Today, nearly 20 years after Buglioni and his family first transitioned from the garment business, Mariano directs operations, oenologist Diego Bertoni to bring these remarkable bottles to an ever-growing population of wine-lovers around the world.
“In fashion, every single week something changes—the color, the style. Even if you’re fast, you are not fast enough,” Mariano told Wine Spectator, attesting that the food and wine world suits him better than the clothing industry. “Wine is more of a passion for me. You have to follow nature.” Outgoing, fun and energetic, Mariano—now in his late 40s—embodies the spirit of Italian winemaking: passionate, devoted, and vital. These characteristics, among many others, shine through in the finished product.
Buglioni’s vineyards, located at the foot of the Veronese pre-Alps, are comprised of 36 hectares of Corvina, Corvinone, Molinara, and Rondinella grapes, used to make their signature Valpolicella Classico and Superiore, as well as bianco, rosé and brut Spumante. A recent planting of Oseleta, Croatina and white Garganega is expected to contribute substantially to their overall production. Acclaimed for wine-growing since ancient Roman times, this area benefits from soil rich with gravel and clay that’s drought-resistant and ideal for these varietals. The resulting wines hold a distinct integrity, crafted with respect for the environment and for the region’s age-old local winemaking and aging traditions that brought the Buglioni family its fame.
One of the many beneficiaries of the Buglionis’ success is the family’s bistro, Osteria del Bugiardo, which was converted from a clothing boutique to a restaurant in 2005 as the family looked for a way to get their wines in front of the public. The first of these, Osteria del Bugiardo opened in the historic center of Verona and was joined by additional wineries, restaurants, and bed-and-breakfasts in Valpolicella and Villafranca. A haven for fans of cured meats, handmade pastas, local produce, rich cheeses, and hearty regional meat and fish specialties, these properties are must-visits for the traveling wine-lover, with guided tours encouraged.
For a family to pour wines from their carefully tended vineyards alongside the elegant northern Italian cuisine their pride in serving neighbors and visitors alike represents a truly remarkable connection to the land that changed the course of their lives. This sentiment is broadly reflected in every Buglioni property, perhaps no more so than the newly opened Piscaria del Bugiardo in Verona, overlooking Sant’Anastasia. Locals and tourists flock to the restaurant for large, masterfully prepared plates of black squid ink pasta. The regional specialty is served with fresh seafood and is specially made to pair perfectly with Buglioni’s famous wines.
Suffice it to say, the Buglioni family and the dedicated employees who help them bring these famous wines to fans around the world are a driving force behind the steady rise in Valpolicella’s popularity and recognition. Their journey from wine-lovers to wine-producers, restaurateurs and hospitality experts has created a robust legacy that will endure for generations to come.
November 28, 2018