Archive for April, 2010

Interview with Tim O’Connell-Founder

Posted in Wine and Design, Wine Production: Various levels with tags , , on April 30, 2010 by jponzi

This morning I conducted a phone interview with Timothy O’Connell, who is the CEO and founder of He is an American born in Chicago. He has been living in Italy for 15 years working for a variety of Italian companies. Now his main focus is He started this company because he had many partners and colleagues that were designers and had an impact design industry. In addition these individuals were and are very passionate about wine and they wanted to integrate the two.

When asked how he will measure the success of his business, Mr. O’Connell replied, obviously the success of any business is somewhat determined by sales, but we are also looking for exposure. We want to be respected in the game of the wine industry and we greatly feel that we are already achieving this. We want to be as a well-known, prestigious firm that wine producers would like to partner with.

I asked Tim what other marketing tools he uses to promote his wine and he said Design wine not only has their own website but they are also present on


as well as Twitter:

He also commented that Design wine also participates in many offline events. DesignWine’s World Premiere was during Salone Internazionale del Mobile from April 13 to 16th in Zona Tortona, at Fuorisalone Officine Firentini. Over 1,000 people a day, including famous Designers such as Philippe Starck, enjoyed a glass of wine and toasted this newly-born adventure. Mr. O’Connell believed it was a great way to kick off Europe’s premium online wine boutique in style.

When I first found out about your site, it said Designwine was looking for international wines, now on the about page it is written only Italian wines. why did it change?

He commented that he changed because they first would like to establish credibility and dominate the market in Italy and then expand internationally. The site is both in Italian and in English so international consumers can buy wine. However, international producers do now have the chance yet to advertise their wine. Mr. O’Connell commented that he has a lot of contacts in other countries and are completely anticipating penetrating the international market in future years. He also commented that he considers small producers that do not have a lot of visibility but have a specialty product and Designwine  is here to help them become recognized.

When asked how does he justify that he is providing his customers with exclusive wine, he said to justify it is very hard but he does ensure that he is always trying to provide exclusivity to his customers. For example with the Brunello wine in South Tyrol he went there interviewed journalists and wine experts to find out which ones are considered the best. He also said that the wine selection process is very selective. He said there could be 5,000 great wines but his job is to choose the best.

When asked where he finds his suppliers he said to call or email us at We will be happy to schedule a meeting in your Showroom or at the DesignWine headquarters and discuss the commercial opportunities, present you our innovative business model and the terms of our partnership. DesignWine is a premium brand and the development strategy on the market follows very closely. Therefore any cooperation in line with our positioning is very welcome.

But also he said that they use professionals and journalists who know that particular area so they know the best wines. He said when they deceide to do an area/region of Italy they will select as many as 60 vineyards and will narrow it down to about 6 wines. He said it is of course a very competitive and complex process and they execute also bind tasting process.

I also commented that if I was a wine producer or knew a wine producer and wanted to be selected by Designwine what should I do. He said that they would not pick a person right on the spot. Anyone would need to propose their interest in being apart of Designwine and contact the company via email or phone. Designwine would then invite the producer to set up his wines and then they would evaluate his wine as well as the wine in the entire region .

designwine Headquarters
Via Roberto Ruffilli, n. 18/20
47030 San Mauro Pascoli (FC), Italia

Tel. +39 0541 810231
Fax +39 0541 1641060

Advertisements The new and improved website

Posted in Wine and Design, Wine Production: Various levels with tags , , on April 30, 2010 by jponzi

So as stated in my previous post I found out about in my e-marketing class. When I first researched it, the website was still in the initial stage and the mission statement and contacts where the only information to be found. Now, the site has completely transformed. Here is the website:

In anticipation for Mothers Day the site now features the following ad.

For consumers there is also an ingenious guided search that asks the following questions in a 5 step process:

I  chose red wine, medium boiled, paired with beef, fruit flavors and the price range of 15-25 euros. The resulting suggestions are as follows:

The website also includes pages about acclaimed designers such as:

Roberto Palomba

Partner at Palomba Serafini Associati, PS+A. Internationally acclaimed architect and designer.

For every Designer’s Selection sold, 5 per cent of proceeds will go to the Design Wine Community, a fund established for Italian and International children’s charities. Donations will be made on Ammado, the interactive platform uniting the nonprofit sector, engaged individuals and socially involved companies. Visit the community at

“Wine as slivers of stolen emotions from around the world, caught through the lens of my inseparable partner… my Canon. Experimenting with the five senses.”-Robert Palomba.

His selections include:

My grandfather making his special wine for the select few

Posted in Wine Production: Various levels with tags , , on April 29, 2010 by jponzi

My grandfather was born and raised in Pozzalo, Sicily and immigrated to the United States in 1951. He had been exposed to wine all of his life and had even worked on a field harvesting grapes at a young age. After immigrating to the United States and starting a family he decided to start a hobby of his own that would bring him comfort and make him feel at home in this new foreign.

First he would order the wine grapes from the Clinton-Bailey Market in Buffalo, New York and they would deliver 10-15 40 lb. boxes of California Muscat grapes (white) and about 7-10 boxes of Zinfandel (red) grapes.

Later he wanted to integrate his own grapes into the mix. He had a small cottage where there was about a couple acres of land where he had his mini-vineyard that only had Niagara Muscat grapes.

In the beginning of the process he would crush the grapes using a type of grinding machine, which was operated by hand.  The crushed grapes were then placed into oak barrels for the process of fermentation.  The two varieties of grapes were combined; the result being a Rose’ type of wine. He would let both the skins of the whites and the reds stay in contact with the  must and juice.  This is a very unconventional technique because whenever a producer uses white grapes they remove the skins. He believed in keeping them in contact. After the fermentation period, which was about 10 to 14 days, the juice was collected.  Then separated into halves where one was then boiled with sugar and later added to other un-boiled juice. Then the entire juice mixture was put into another set of oak barrels.  More juice was extracted from the “must” by putting it into a homemade wine press. He made the wine press all by himself. He had worked on a vineyard in Pozzalo, Sicily so he had gained some knowledge about grapes, wine production, and wine machinery. The juice collected from the must would then be added back to the oak barrels and one the fermentation bubble stopped he would cork the barrels.

The juice would ferment for about 7-10 days.  Fermentation could continue in the oak barrels for another week and he expressed to me that the barrels were always kept on their sides not on their ends. The grapes juice was enhanced again by the addition of boiling some juice with sugar, which would help in the fermentation.  This result would be about 3-4 barrels of homemade wine every September during the l960’s-70’s My grandfather also told me that he never used bottles back then because times were tough and he never made his own labels either. He would put his wine in used glass gallon wine containers. Later he would used Damigiane instead of the glass gallon containers.

His sister also immigrated to United States with him so he would always share his wine with her. He also would share his wine with some of his close neighborhood friends. In western New York at the time and even still till this day, there is a huge Italian population. So as he describes it, many of them would share their wine, bread, and homemade recipes with each other. Anything that would remind them of the old country was a blessing.

The role of cork in the Wine Process

Posted in Wine and Design with tags , , on April 29, 2010 by jponzi

Wine cork stopper is believed to be the only sealing material, which allows wine to “live” and mature in the bottle. Before cork was used many wine makers used oil soaked rags to seal the wine bottle. Now wine corks are made from specially selected corkwood, which is cut into shape, carefully inspected for flaws, washed, sterilized, and printed. Cork is a suitable material for use as a bottle stopper because of the cellular structure of cork, its compressibility upon insertion into a bottle. The interior diameter of the neck of glass bottles tends to be inconsistent, making this ability to seal through variable contraction and expansion an important attribute.

There generally are 4 types of cork stoppers Natural wine cork stopper, Agglomerated wine cork stopper, Fine Grain Agglomerated wine cork stopper, and Techincal 1+1 wine cork stopper (used for champagne)On advance Cork international they advertise selling the following:

Natural Wine Cork Stopper

It is only a natural cork that can assure maturing of wine without interfering with natural harmony of the drink. Then natural cork closure is manufactured by punching a one-piece cork strip. The most popular sizes that are used in Natural wine cork stopper are :

  • Lengths: 44 mm, 38 mm
  • Diameter: 24 mm, 23mm

Agglomerated cork closures are entirely made of granulated cork, derived from by-products that are a result of the manufacture of natural cork closures.
These corks are completely batch homogeneous.

Fine Grain Agglomerated Cork Stopper-

NOVO cork closures are entirely made of granulated cork, derived from by-products that are a result of the manufacture of natural cork closures. These closures are manufactured by individual molding. These corks are completely batch homogeneous.

Technical 1+1 Cork Stopper

They consist of a very dense agglomerate cork body with natural cork disks on both ends and is realatively very resiliant. Combining natural cork ends with an agglomerated middle makes this cork an economic alternative.

The wine glass makes all the difference

Posted in History and Origin, Wine and Design, Wine Production: Various levels with tags , , on April 29, 2010 by jponzi

The glass truly makes all the difference when tasting wine. In 1957, Professor Riedel began experimenting with different glasses for different wines. He determined that the exact same wine – from the same bottle served at the exact same temperature at the same time and under the same conditions – tasted noticeably different when tasted from differently shaped and sized glasses. He spent the following 16 years studying the physics of wine delivery to the mouth and taste buds, experimenting with glass configurations and wines of different regions and maturities. He noticed that depending on glasses’ sizes, shapes, thickness, and rim diameter and thinness, they imparted different organ-oleptic information not only, transmitting specific characteristics but also harmony, depth, balance and complexity.

In 1958, he created the Sommeliers Burgundy Grand Cru stem, still the world’s largest wine glass (37-ounce capacity), which, initially, was dubbed ‘the goldfish bowl’ but in 1960 was placed in the permanent design collection of New York City’s Museum of Modern which, today, contains an additional 126 Riedel stems.

There are many guides that exist for each type of wine and experts rave that only certain wines should only be consumed in certain glasses.


Riedel, an Austrian company, proclaims that it is The wine glass company and on their site they have a wine glass guide. In the guide there are over 150 different wines. Each consumer can use the guide to pick exactly which type of glass they want for their occasion.

For my first example I chose Barolo, a typical very respected Italian red wine. Below are the 9 options I was supplied with. If you click on each glass you will receive a detailed description of each glass and where it is sold.

For a second example, I chose to look at Bordeaux, which is a typical French white wine. There were also 9 options suggested for this wine as well. With other more exclusive wines there were more precise options such as only one glass was suggested for consumption.

Also these glasses come with a high price. They are looked to as being a form of expression and manifestation of style and wealth. For example a deal found on a wine expert website advertised buying 8 Reidel glasses for the price of 8, still a price of 150 Euros.

How wine is changing the world: Wine Cooperatives

Posted in Wine Production: Various types with tags , , , on April 27, 2010 by jponzi

The Fairtrade Foundation teamed up with the wine Co-operative in Los Robles in Chile to help promote and sustain their wine market.

The Fairtrade Foundation is a development organisation committed to tackling poverty and injustice through trade, and the UK member of Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO). The Foundation works with businesses, civil society organisations and individuals to improve the position of producer organisations in the South and to help them achieve sustainable improvements for their members and their communities.

Certification and product labelling (through the FAIRTRADE Mark) are the primary tools for our development goals. The backing of organisations of producers and consumers in a citizen’s movement for change is fundamental and integral to our work.

With Fairtrade wines tells a story; about struggling communities revived and renewed, about schools built, clean water supplied and hope restored. So when you’re sipping the velvety Argentine Malbec or Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, or celebrating with the Cape Sparkling Brut, you can be sure it means a fairer price is paid to the producer and you’re not paying over the odds yourself.

In argentina Fairtrade has also teamed up with La Riojana the largest co-operative in Argentina. As well as receiving the Fairtrade premium for their grapes, wine producers in La Riojana benefit from an additional premium paid by The Co-operative social projects.

The first year’s funds were used to install a new water facility for 381 in habitants of Tilimuqui, as small village near Chilecito. Previously water was delivered once a week in a truck, but now every home has access to clean drinking water on a daily basis. Now Fairtrade is starting a project to fund a new secondary school for children aged between 13 and 18 years old living in the Chilecito region.

Facebook and the Wine Market

Posted in Wine Production: Various levels with tags , , on April 27, 2010 by jponzi

Wine Vineyard just like many business are taking advantage of the the possibilities and connections Social Networks such as Facebook have to offer. Since everyone loves Facebook and it is practically the 3rd largest country in the world what better way to mass market your wine!

Here sellers have a new way to interact with their customers supplying direct feedback. It is also a great and innovative Marketing Tool.

Not only can seller create a profile but they can also post photos, encourage customers to continue to consume their products, and provide status updates on new products or when certain events with their wine will take place.

This new business tool also gives consumers the chance to interact with each other expressing their feelings, beliefs, and thoughts about the product. Also the producer can supply the consumers with other user friendly links, such as their official website, twitter accounts and groups that the business is currently following. Also Facebook gives the producer the capability to upload videos as well as the ability to establish a more personal relationship with it’s customers. 

My friend Fancesco Savini, owner and one of the founders of Anfra Cantina, has expressed to me how valuable of a tool Facebook is to his business. He says it truly gives a producer  endless possibilities when promoting their wine.

Producers are also given the opportunity to create multiple profiles about their products as to market to certain target segments. Also owners can display their wine selection and products, their awards as well as conduct discussion boards. Currently Anfra Cantina has 2,517 friends on Facebook while Anfra has 1,057.