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Interview with Giovanni Bulgari

Giovanni Bulgari, grand-grand sun of the jewelry brand BVLGARI founder talked with the Vogue lifestyle editor Evgeniy Alefirenko about the new family business – wine-making.

> Original article



26 November 2013

Giovanni Bulgari, grand-grand sun of the jewelry brand BVLGARI founder talked with the Vogue lifestyle editor Evgeniy Alefirenko about the new family business – wine-making.

Giovanni Bulgari shows on his tablet not the jewelry collections or historically old jewelry samples created during 130 brand existence but green hills of Italian Sienna, fully planted with grapes. Two years ago the family ledges the shares of the jewelry house to the conglomerate LVMH and started a new, but pretty appropriated for the Toscana inhabitants business.

Giovanni Bulgari

Giovanni and the managing director of his wine-making company – Podernuovo a Palazzone Giuglio di Gropello took their way to Ukraine in order to conduct business negotiations. The role of starting wine-makers is pretty new for the people who in the past business were at the peak of the world’s fame.

My first questions is related to this change of business activity – was it worth it? Giovanni replies without any hesitation: «Oh, for me it means a lot. I love blue sky, fresh air, large open spaces, feeling the soil under foots, breathing to the full extend and seeing the fluttering leaves. For me this lifestyle can be compared with luxury and peak of success. I feel myself extremely happy now. Two-three days in a week I spend in Rome but every time I come there I start feeling uncomfortable, physically I miss Sienna, Toscana».

Toscana landscape view – right out the window of the Giovanni Bulgari winery Podernuovo a Palazzone

I am asking – how spontaneous was a decision by itself. Giovanni tells that he knows all these rural places from his childhood, when he was visiting them with the parents: “I was always attracted to the rural life. The final decision came to me in 2005 year. In 2007 we planted our first grape and in a few years I understood that there was no way back. There are about 20 people working now with me on this project and this is an ongoing and long-lasting process, we work hard without any breaks or pauses. We work according to seasonal cycles – we are following them».

Later we start talking about an interesting phenomenon – huge impact of the Italian culture on Ukraine. The impact of Italian fashion is tremendous. Milan – is one of the most popular places for shopping, Italy – trendy direction for travelling today in Ukraine, also the love to Italian cuisine is big, the wines from Italy are sold in Ukraine’s distribution channel much better than any other wines, despite the fact that a lot of distributors at some point started from selling French wines. For Giovanni it is pleasant news that it is a so wide-spread trend in Ukraine, but he says that he might know the reasons.

«I know the reason. French businessmen, it is correctly noticed, arrive to the market first. They have good products, very high-quality. But there is a difference. For example, the French wine – is a luxury, unique experience, but Italian – is a way to enjoy life. You can drink easier, it is lighter, less expensive, less pompous, if I can say so. Italian wine is dolce vita to larger extend, it expresses the Italian approach to wine and to life in general. I love French wines, but Italian ones give me more opportunities to feel the deepness of life in its different moments».

I am interested to know more about the taste of Giovanni in wines and he says that like trying the new ones and don’t be concentrated only on one or on a few types of them for constant drinking. “As a Toscana person I like wines of such types of grape as Sangiovese, north-Italian Barbaresco, I also like the white wines from Sicilia, and it is a fantastic thing about wines that the variety of them is big and you can try something new all the time. It is a great pleasure for me to taste the new terroir, the new country».

Giovanni Bulgari

For the capital-living person the move to the rural area is considered to be an attempt to “escape from life tempo” and I am interested if Giovanni considers his activity change as down-shifting? He replies that it is vice versa: “Currently it looks as an upshifting, I fully dedicated myself to the favorite activity – no passive rest at all. I am fulfilling my childhood dreams, moving in the direction which I always considered as the right one and as a result I feel totally happy. I enjoy coming to Rome. I liked working in BVLGARI, liked holding luxury stones in my hands, I was a buyer for some time. I think that this experience was highly helpful in my wine-making business».

Similarity between wine and gems sounds to me as exaggeration and Giovanni explains his thought: «In jewelry business I learned how to feel the quality and content of stones, now I do the same with the grapes. As before I felt the gems in my hands, evaluated their colors, purity, density – in the same way I work with grapes and wine in my glass, I look how it sparkles, what is its density, how the light goes through it. The wine is more complicated material as you can feel its flavor and taste. Besides, wine is changing very dynamically: stones are more stable, they are not ripening, not reaching mature age, don’t deteriorate».

My companion talks so absorbedly about niceties of jewelry art that I am asking if he misses his previous experiences and thinks to come back to fashion world and jewelry business? Giovanni replies immediately: «I still love stones and like the jewelry art but I like my rural life much better if we compare the activities. My personal jewelry style is very simple by design and can be described via necklaces which stress the beauty of stones. And my approach to wine is the same: I would like to reveal the natural taste of wine which is created by terrior, soil, vine type, climate of this land».

«I also highly appreciate the rural lifestyle. Now the winter is approaching. I like this season of the year, it is very comfortable, I like to come back home after work and put the fireplace. I don’t have the attributes of urban life such as TV – only music and probably some radio-programs. And my dogs – the oldest one is 16 years old already. It is a mixed breed with the wolf and looks as a small grey wolf».

Vinery of Giovanni Bulgari Podernuovo a Palazzone in Toscana

Bulgari family is one of impressive examples of the dynasty which during the generations reached the peaks in its business and I am asking if Giovanni would like to start the wine-making dynasty as his grand-father Sotirio did in jewelry business: «We commemorate not only the memories of the legendary person – this is a salute to the predecessor who managed to start something new – as we are doing now. If we talk about wine-making dynasty, I have two small children and wine-making needs more than one life. I hope that my children would be interested in joining me and continue wine-making».

«Even if they will not be interested as much as I am in living near vinery, growing grapes, making wine, there is a lot of other work here – travelling, networking, taking care of business in a lot of other ways. This is a family-work and every one can find his own place here».

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