Women at the center of the game? Daisy Penzo, owner of Tuscany Wines Import, tells us about her all-female experience and the commitment to enhance the wines of our peninsula to the palates of Americans.
Tuscany Wines Import is a female owned and operated company that provides services to wineries and other alcoholic beverage owners. At the helm of this all-female reality is Daisy Penzo, who in the midst of the pandemic managed to create her business and, in this regard, we interviewed her to make the most of her tenacity and tell the experience of her in the industry.
Can you tell us about your experience and passion for the world of wine?
My experience in the wine world started at an early age. My father was an importer of Italian wines in the U.S. and I was blessed with the opportunity to learn about his business by traveling with him to different wine regions, trade shows, and other important wine events throughout the world. This exposure, coupled with his untimely passing, fueled my passion to continue his legacy and be involved in the world of wine. Last year, in the midst of the COVID pandemic, I started my business Tuscany Wines Import. In short, I am an importer and purveyor of Italian wines in the US. From Aglianico to Zibibbo, there are over 350 recognized grape varieties in Italy. It is my passion project to educate and bring these splendid flavors to people’s palates.
We have seen that your company is all female. Why this choice and how strategic is the figure of women for today’s wine world?
Positioning my company as women-owned and becoming certified with the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) was a strategic decision as well as a naturally obvious choice.
Women in wine, and in decision making positions, are very few. I personally felt that if I was not going to be offered a seat at the proverbial table, that creating my own was the only choice I had. I saw the opportunity in front of me and, with a good plan, created a platform to channel my passion for wine.
The importance of highlighting women’s accomplishments in the wine world is a continued commitment to strategically push for inclusion, diversification, and advancement within the industry. Any industry supporting women-owned companies is just good business!
How has the American wine industry evolved and how will it evolve according to your predictions after the pandemic and what factors may influence it?
The American wine industry is traditionally structured by the “three-tier system”. A separation of entities is needed between wineries, wholesalers (importers, distributors), and retailers (on and off premise). With the pandemic drastically influencing consumer behavior, all segments in the three-tier system had to evolve and focus on growth technologies and increase their ecommerce and online presences. I think the wine industry will continue to explore this path and develop better communication and marketing strategies in order to stand out from the competition.
How is Italian wine perceived on the American market and what are the preferences of American consumers?
Italian wine has a very favorable perception and position in the American market. Over the years, Italians have earned global consumer trust by building and delivering on the reputation for producing quality products. Naturally an Italian food and beverage product bearing the DOP seals (DOC/DOCG “fascetta” for wines) is a sign of not only authenticity but higher quality standards of production.
In general, American consumers like bold and fruit forward wines. When you are competing against overly extracted domestic wines, delicate Italian wines tend to feel “muted”. However, when we present consumers wines from Veneto (Rosso Veneto blends), Tuscany (Bolgheri), or Southern Italian regions… The wines impress the American palates and shine on their own.
What are the strengths of Italian wine and what are the obstacles to obtaining a good positioning on the American market?
Italian wines have a strong sense of identity… what I call an unmistakable typicity. Varietals such as Nebbiolo, Aglianico, Corvina, for example, know exactly who they are in their character and wine expressing capabilities. But, because they are so distinct and not easily associable to other international grapes, they can become intimidating to the average consumer, thus creating an obstacle. Good positioning on the American market will come to those who align themselves with reputable importers and merchants who are able to formulate the right marketing strategy for their wines.