Filippo, can you explain how the Crowdwine initiative was born and how it works?
Crowdwine was born from a totally virtual collaboration between Milano Wine Week and OriginalItalia in partnership with the Eppela platform. It is the first fundraising activity in Italy made to support small and medium wine producers, heavily affected by the health crisis that has impacted the revenues from the horeca channel, due to the closure of restaurants and hotels, and visits to wineries, that were not possible during the lockdown.
Can you tell us the story of any wine producer that particularly impressed you?
The aspect they all have in common and that strikes me the most is the attention and the respect they have towards their territory. Very often we come in contact with people who work as pharmacists, engineers, technicians who cultivate a passion for wine and manage to find the courage and initiative to make it a second job or even their main one. They are local heroes, small realities that over the years grow up becoming real and proper wineries.
How can we all support these small wineries?
By going to the website www.eppela.com in the section related to the Crowdwine initiative you can solve the three main problems wine producers are facing: decreasing number of visits to wineries, full warehouses and lack of liquidity that prevents them from investing in this year’s production. You can buy vouchers for a future visit to the winery or buy some of their top wine in cases of six bottles or even discover the wine in preview (en primeur), that means you can buy now a wine bottle that will be released in the next season for a more emotional participation in the production of that winery.
Your activity could be framed under SDG 11 of the United Nations 2030 Agenda focused on sustainable communities. What are the elements that make a community more responsible from the point of view of sustainability?
The concept of sustainability, especially when applied within the wine supply chain, is typical of small and medium producers and is closely linked to a long-term vision. A concrete example are the investments on solar panels for vineyards which guarantee a great energy saving. However long term vision does not work in e-commerce, the preferred sales channel of the moment which has benefited from a strong acceleration during the pandemic. We are talking about a world that is growing too fast for small producers, prices are always falling and it is difficult to do real storytelling. So we decided to support them in their development on online platforms with a slow approach – in fact, it’s called slowcommerce.
It’s very interesting the concept of slowcommerce. Can you tell us what it is and how we can introduce it into our habits?
It’s very simple and it’s exactly what we try to do in OriginalItalia. I’ll explain it to you through a sort of outline of the foundations on which e-commerce is developed: product, sales, marketing and logistics. First and foremost, it’s about choosing fairly small wine producers with an ethical approach to their work. Sales should not favor bids, in the case of small producers it is important to recognize a fair price to prevent low sales from damaging the market. Finally there are the logistical aspects, e-commerce pollutes a lot both in terms of transport and packaging. But there are some actions we can do to decrease the environmental impact. For example, by setting a minimum order of bottles for shipments or through partnerships with suppliers who monitor our consumption in terms of CO2 and plant trees to counteract the environmental impact.
As a spokesperson for this philosophy and a supporter of initiatives working in this area, what is your superpower? What are the superpowers of small and sustainable wine producers?
Perhaps what distinguishes us the most is the will and the ability to see beyond the fence, to believe in long term projects, because our business sustainability cannot disregard environmental sustainability.
But we’re not the heroes, they are, we’re just a vehicle to tell their stories.
Interview by Alice Pisano of Global Shapers Venice