DOLCE VITA

Veneto, Italy 2020 | AGRICULTURE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Sandro Bottega, President & CEO of Bottega SpA, on over 40 years of operations, wine tourism, and year-on-year growth expectations.

What have been the main milestones of the company since its inception in 1977?

We have been working at the highest levels of quality, design, and sustainability, which are our company's values. This allowed us to create state-of-the-art products that are highly innovative. We have always been a step ahead of the others, and this has paid off. The strength of this company is not in the financial numbers but in the name and brand awareness globally, because everybody recognizes Bottega as a master of quality, design, innovation, and sustainability.

What strategies have been implemented for Bottega to become the second-best selling sparkling wine in travel-retail?

The strategy has been to look at market needs. We do not focus on the mass market but on niche markets. Our products are available in the most important department stores of the world, and we have a distribution in about 300 airports around the world, 60 airlines, and the best wine shops globally. This allows the consumer of the Italian style, of the dolce vita, namely those who want to drink and live well, to find our products in the best locations where we are present with a beautiful display.

What is the idea behind Bottega Prosecco Bars?

The mission of a company is to produce and earn profits as well as have social responsibility and help consumers improve the quality of their lives. This for Bottega has been a must since day one. Teaching consumers how to recognize the quality of a product has always been extremely important, and for this we opened the Prosecco Bar, where we show the consumer how to enjoy life. We know what people want not only in terms of wine but also food. We also bring a design capability; the design we provide is the one that consumers want. We are in a more relaxed atmosphere where one can eat something in a homemade style and where they can spend their time in a way that they do not have to pay attention to what they say or how they eat.

What makes Bottega unique in such a competitive wine market?

Apart from quality, design, and sustainability, we have always managed the company with a concept of efficiency. The value of our products is extremely fitting if we compare and consider the above three elements. One can find wines that are cheaper; however, the level of quality that we provide is much higher than the price one pays for.

What is the relationship between technology and sustainability for Bottega?

When setting up a company, one has to manage it by having a vision for the future in order to ensure everyone's well-being. Normally, it takes a liter of water to make one bottle of wine. Our prosecco is cultivated without using any water, so the one we use is only for the bottling system. Our system allows us to recycle about 20,000 liters per day, which means that the use of water is about 300ml per bottle, one third of the average. We use geothermal energy by pumping water from the soil and injecting it into the system, so we reduce our energy consumption, saving 756 tons of CO2 per year. On our golden bottle, we use a water-based coating. 50% of the glass that we use in our bottles comes from a recycled system. We always use technology to improve our concepts. Automation is one of the major changes in the world for cultivation of vineyards. Our consultant developed insects that are predators that allow us to protect the vineyards in a natural way. All these things together make the technology important and fit perfectly with the principles and rules that we strive for in our company.

What is the approach of Bottega to wine tourism?

Bottega welcomes visitors at all estates: in Treviso, in Valgatara (Valpolicella) and Montalcino. We offer free visits and we can arrange tasting as well as short lessons about the wines. We have created some beautiful locations where the people can visit the vineyards and walk in them, and we think we should do more in terms of promotion. For example, a few years ago we made a promotion with British Airways and with Sligro in which we invited all consumers who were buying our products to keep the cork, which entitled them to a free visit and tasting at our premises.

The Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco hills were awarded the UNESCO World Heritage status. How will this impact Veneto, and how will Bottega capitalize on this?

Veneto is the region in Italy that offers more than any other. What you can find here is absolutely unique: architecture, from Palladio's villas to Venice; nature, from the Dolomites to the beautiful hills to the countryside to the beaches; historical sites; and high-quality restaurants. The World Heritage status will increase the number of visitors and I hope the level of services and the number of restaurants and hotels. In our locations, we will welcome guests that want to buy or experience our wines. We receive about 2,000 visitors every year, which is small compared to what we have. We hope that this will bring them a better feeling of what Prosecco is.

What are your expectations for 2020?

My strategy has always been to grow between 5 and 10% YoY, and this is what I want to continue to achieve. I am not looking to double the turnover or to have a huge increase. In 2020, I expect to achieve normal results, though always in line with our strategy to be more known to the number of people with the ambition to live better.