Throughout Italy, there’s a huge number of organisations that dedicate themselves to the promotion and celebration of Italian wine.
Some of these operate on a regional level and focus on very specific wines. They aim to highlight the unique qualities that the wines they represent bring to the table. And in doing so, they aim to shine a spotlight on some of the amazing producers who deserve recognition for their efforts.
Others operate on a global scale with a wider goal of popularising the Italian wine industry on the international stage.
That’s the category that Unione Italiana Vini. And in June 2019, the organisation re-elected its current president Ernesto Abbona.
What Does Unione Italiana Vini Do?
Unione Italiana Vini is one of the oldest Italian wine associations in the country. Since 1895, it’s focused on promoting the country’s wines and its producers on both the domestic and international levels.
Simply put, it’s one of the most respected trade bodies in the entire industry. Unione Italiana Vini acts as a valuable source of news for those in the industry. It also holds regular promotional events and plays a large part in how the industry makes inroads into new and existing territories.
At the time of writing, the organisation boasts associations with 500 different companies. Through those associations, it directly represents more than 150,000 winemakers.
That’s a huge number, which just goes to show how important the organisation is to the Italian wine industry. But what’s really impressive are the revenue statistics.
According to the organisation’s website, its work accounts for 50% of the Italian wine industries total turnover every single year. And if you have any doubts about its work in promoting the industry overseas, just know that it’s responsible for 85% of the turnover generated by exported Italian wine products.
It’s also the publisher of The Wine Courier, which is one of the most respected newsletter publications in the industry. With 12,000 subscribers, it’s an influential piece that’s read regularly by the movers and shakers in the industry.
With all of these numbers in mind, you can imagine that running the organisation is a pretty huge task. Whoever takes that role has a lot to stay on top of and takes direct responsibility for the promotion and success of an entire industry.
That’s where Ernesto Abbona comes into play.
Who is Ernesto Abbona?
The obvious answer is that he’s the President of Unione Italiana Vini. And as we’re going to discover in a moment, he recently achieved re-election to the position.
However, some wine lovers may know him better as the President and CEO of Cantine dei Marchesi di Barolo. Abbona’s responsible for producing some of the most impressive examples of the King of Wines to ever come out of Italy. In fact, you could argue that it is the most prestigious Barolo producer in Italy.
However, Abbona’s expertise doesn’t just lie in Italian wine. It’s his business acumen that makes him such a desired commodity. A graduate of the University of Turin, where he studied business and economics, Abbona has always understood that there’s an entire industry behind the Italians’ passion for wine. It is this understanding that has led to him becoming such an important figure.
Beyond his work with Cantine dei Marchesi di Barolo and Unione Italiana Vini, he serves on the boards of a range of trade associations, many of which promote Italian wines in some form.
His association with Unione Italiana Vini started in 1995. It was in this year that he became a member of its National Committee, which put him in a position to start having an influence on decisions. After 21 years of service, he ascended to the role of Vice President in 2016. And just one year later, he was the President of the entire organisation.
Simply put, Abbona is one of the most influential people in the Italian wine industry today. His work has done an enormous amount to promote the industry’s growing influence in new territories, such as China and India. Plus, he’s overseen consistent growth for the industry, both domestic and globally, during his tenure as President of Unione Italiana Vini.
Abbona’s re-election comes during a fairly tumultuous period for Unione Italiana Vini.
With most of current board outgoing, there were some who thought that he may not stay in the position without the support of people that he’s worked with for many years.
However, the current situation with the European Union, coupled with other issues within the industry, has led to Unione Italiana Vini wanting to keep a steady hand who’s capable of steering the ship.
There are few steadier than Abbona.
Upon his re-election, he said:
“With enthusiasm and high sense of responsibility I accept to continue this important mandate. I thank the outgoing Board for the work carried out and the new Board for the trust I have been given. In the next three years, we expect great challenges at national and international level, but UIV is ready to face them.
“Our strength is a wealth of knowledge, skills and cooperation reinforced also by the contribution of “Movimento Turismo del Vino”, “Donne del Vino” and the scientific world which we put at the service not only of enterprises, but also of institutions and of wine production chain, to facilitate the identification of technical, regulatory and political decisions capable of meeting the challenges of the sector.”
He will receive support from Sandro Sartor, who will serve as his Vice President, in addition to Lamberto Frescobaldi, he will act as the Assistant Vice President. Together, the three men aim to confront all challenges that may face the Italian wine industry in the coming years.
Abbona will hold the position for three years before another election takes place. It’s hard to imagine that anyone who’s more credentialed could possibly take his spot. We believe that he’ll likely serve as President until he chooses to step down.
Perhaps most importantly, Abbona has promised to take on challenges related to climate change and sustainability. With both being hot-button issues for the industry, it’s crucial that Unione Italiana Vini presents a united front to ensure the continued prosperity of Italian wine.
We congratulate Abbona on his re-election and look forward to seeing what new strategies he puts in place for the industry.