The Old Vino Bravo Gang (and Jim Knight of the Wine House)… Trouble!
I began my journey in the wine business by accident. After pursuing a highly exciting and equally esoteric degree in Comparative Literature (focusing of course, on texts from Medieval Italy), I was a college graduate who needed a job. After a couple of failed attempts working for random companies (including, of all things, a paintball gun manufacturer), I landed a position with a little importation company called Vino Bravo. The owner hired me because I spoke Italian. I knew nothing about wine.
Team Vino Bravo with Paolo Perinelli (a Lazio producer of beautiful Cesanese!)
I was quickly seduced by the world of Italian wine- it was the wines we were importing that really got to me. I didn’t know the stories about the people who make the wines would be so fascinating, or so culturally important to Italy. Wine is a crucially important Italian heritage- I came to feel like an ambassador of this history.
Of course,this was back in 2004, before there were so many smaller, specialized importers in California. We worked with producers who farmed these tiny production, esoteric wine grapes from little-known regions. It was magical to learn about the wines and the producers- and then so much fun to talk to restaurants and retailers about them. People hadn’t seen an Erbaluce di Caluso in our market at that point. Pigatowas nearly non-existent. It was so much fun.
Vino Bravo wine consultant Giampaolo Gravina with Dave Scott at Vinitaly in 2007
Eventually Vino Bravo went out of business, at which point I had almost finished an MBA program at the University if California in Irvine. I decided to try a different industry for awhile, and got myself a corporate gig at Black & Decker as product marketing “cubicle dweller”. Needless to say, I missed working with Italian wines too much, and eventually found my way back.
Along the way many friends and colleagues have inspired me to keep pursuing my passion for Italy and Italian wines. I stumbled upon a video recently that reminds me of a group of people who always told me this is what I should be doing for a living. Thanks guys- you were the best grad school buddies a girl could have. Please enjoy our Business Operations 101 course assignment… a wine importation company, as seen through the eyes of 6 sleep-deprived MBA students.