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DISCOVERING ITALY’S POTENTIAL
In 1969, Neil and Maria Empson had an idea to start a negociant business in France, based on their shared interest in wine. But their honeymoon to Italy in that year changed their plans: They realized that, in contrast to the well-populated wine brokerage business in France, virtually no one represented the small, quality-conscious producer-growers of Italy. Within two years they had a small portfolio of Italian producers, and with enterprise, perserverance and solid business integrity, the Empsons brought together over the next few years a portfolio of 65 exceptional producers under the Neil Empson Selections umbrella.
FILLING A GAP, CREATING A WINERY
One of the Empsons’ early exports, in the mid-1970s, was a Chardonnay from the Collio zone of Friuli, the first Chardonnay to be exported from Italy. The wine grew to represent nearly a third of the Empson Selections volume. When the producer’s contract came up for renewal, however, a major American importer negotiated the representation away from the Empsons. Undaunted, in 1979 Neil Empson created Bollini Chardonnay. He focused on the Trentino area’s tremendous potential for fine, quality white wines in the crisp, varietally distinctive style he had in mind, and enlisted the technical help of the region’s highly respected school of enology, the Istituto Agrario Provinciale of San Michele. Maria Empson provided the creative elements of packaging and promotional materials, and the brand was launched. It was not long before Bollini Chardonnay was joined by other wines grown in top vineyards in Trentino and Friuli. In a characteristic spirit of enterprise, Neil and Maria Empson have firmly set the Bollini brand on a path of innovation and tireless commitment to quality.