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Interview: Vincent Chiaramonte, CEO, Santa Margherita USA

December 20, 2021

One of the best-known Italian wine brands in the U.S., Santa Margherita continues to reach new consumers as it marks the 60th anniversary of its flagship Pinot Grigio.According to Impact Databank, Santa Margherita ranked second among all imported wine brands in the U.S. retailing above $14 a bottle last year at 650,000 cases, and it received a further boost this year from the broad reopening of the on-premise channel. SND executive editor Daniel Marsteller recently caught up with Vincent Chiaramonte, CEO of Santa Margherita USA, for an update on the business.

SND: How are conditions, broadly speaking, for Santa Margherita in its key markets as the holiday season ramps up?

Chiaramonte: Santa Margherita as a brand overall has enjoyed substantial growth over the past couple of years, despite the challenges we’ve faced. We continue to see loyal consumer affinity to the Santa Margherita brand and expect a very positive finish to 2021 on top of a strong 2020. We saw some interesting statistics over the past 18 months regarding consumers purchasing brands they know and trust. That sentiment seems to have heightened during the pandemic and benefited the market leaders across the board. It certainly did for Santa Margherita. The challenges we’re currently facing, and expect to face into the new year, continue to be the ongoing supply chain issues. Working with our distributor partners to have Santa Margherita wines arrive from Italy promptly is a primary focus for us, and we expect it to continue at least in the short term.

SND: With the flagship Pinot Grigio so well established, where do you see opportunities to continue introducing Santa Margherita’s flagship offering to new consumers and gain new audiences for the brand?

Chiaramonte: We changed our overall marketing approach a few years back to make sure we talk to our current consumers as well as introduce new consumers to Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio. Truthfully, I never cease to be amazed at how our consumers do that better than anyone else. Many new consumers tell me they were introduced to Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio through a friend, relative, or loved one. We rarely meet someone, regardless of their generation, who isn’t familiar with the brand, and we’re very proud of that legacy. This brand has such strong loyalty, and we’ve seen that support over multiple generations.

SND: How are Santa Margherita’s other wines doing, such as the new rosé, the Prosecco, sparkling rosé, Chianti Classico Riserva, and Rive di Refrontolo?

Chiaramonte: Our Prosecco Superiore DOCG continues to be a market leader in the luxury (above $20) Prosecco category and has consistently grown year over year. Our Sparkling Rosé is also doing well in the $20-plus range. Chianti Classico Riserva is one of the fastest-growing labels in our portfolio, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon. In July, we introduced Santa Margherita Rosé in seven states (NY, NJ, CA, FL, IL, MA and TX), and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Based on requests and demand, we’ve rolled it out into additional markets this year, with the plan of launching it nationally in 2022. Rive di Refrontolo is the jewel in the Marzotto family crown. Our founder, Count Gaetano Marzotto, was one of the pioneers of Prosecco and launched our first sparkling wine from the region in 1952. Rive di Refrontolo is a celebration of the best of the Prosecco area. We target this product for on-premise and the accounts that understand and want Proseccos of this caliber.

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