Feature: Italian winemaker expects to expand Chinese market with first CIIE participation

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ROME, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) -- China is already a leading market for Tuscan wine producer Tenuta Cantagallo, but for Dario Pierazzuoli, the company's owner and general director, there's still room to grow and this year's China International Import Expo (CIIE) is key to that strategy.

This is the first year that Tenuta Cantagallo will participate in the CIIE, which got underway Friday and will run through Nov. 10.

Pierazzuoli said taking part in the prestigious fair is part of an effort to raise Tenuta Cantagallo's profile to the next level.

"It's an important way for us to be recognized internationally," Pierazzuoli told Xinhua. "It's a way to stand out from the crowd."

Tenuta Cantagallo differs from most Italian winemakers in that only a small percentage of its overall production is sold domestically. The company's wine is produced in Tuscany, near Florence, entirely from grapes the company grows. But almost all of it is exported.

Pierazzuoli said China is the company's third-leading market, trailing Russia and the United States and just ahead of France. He said that last year, around 27,000 of the 130,000 bottles that Tenuta Cantagallo produced were sent to China, just over 20 percent of the total production.

"We sell the same wine, the same label, the same everything everywhere the wine is sold," Pierazzuoli said. "Someone buying our wine in Beijing will drink the same wine in Moscow, or in Bangkok, or in New York, or that our family drinks at home. We make a high-quality product that is a fit for all the 28 countries where it is sold."

Pierazzuoli estimates he's been to China at least 20 times since the wine was first sold in the country starting in 2010. Because of the pandemic, Pierazzuoli said he won't make the trip for Tenuta Cantagallo's inaugural appearance at CIIE. Instead, he said, the company will be represented by China-based agents who know the products well.

Pierazzuoli said his knowledge of the Chinese market helps him understand how important in-person meetings are to marketing a foreign product in the country.

"Many Italian winemakers sell their products only in the biggest cities, Beijing, Shanghai, and maybe Shenzhen or Guangzhou," he said. "But we are sold in many provinces. In the past, when I'd go to China for 20 days I'd travel to a different city almost every day. It's important to be able to present and explain our wine to local distributors and resellers."

He said CIIE allows for that strategy to be carried out on a large scale.

"It's very prestigious for us to participate in CIIE because it is a symbol of recognition and a chance for a wider group of key figures to understand our wines," Pierazzuoli said. "We believe there's a bright future in China for Italian wine in general and for our wines in particular. The key is getting people to know and taste the products. That is why CIIE is so important for us." Enditem

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