Up Close and Personal with Cristina Mariani-May

Co-CEO, Castello Banfii 

Cristina Mariani-MayAs a women in a senior position in the wine industry, how have you seen the development of women grow in this industry?
More and more women are entering into the wine business and particularly in the sales capacity. I feel women have the strength of easily forming relationships and this makes them great sales executives. I am also seeing more women in wine education and in marketing.  On the consumer front, I feel that women tend to be more open to trying new wines from different regions of the world. 

Who was the biggest influence in your life?
My father, John Mariani, with whom I have worked so closely  over the years. I have to add, he is an amazing golfer – we rarely saw him at weekends, as more often than not he would be lost on a golf course somewhere. My father is a true wine industry pioneer and the marketing genius behind the remarkable success of the Riunite brand in the ‘70s and ‘80s. From there his vision led to the purchase  in the early ‘80s of Castello Banfi winery and estate in Montalcino, Tuscany. For much of the past 25 years, he has applied his creative energy to restoring and developing the property, to a point where it is now regarded as one of the finest wine estates in the world. Along the way, Castello Banfi became the first winery worldwide to earn official recognition for its Exceptional Environmental, Social and Ethical Responsibility (ISO 14001 and SA 8000), followed recently by the opening of Il Borgo, a beautiful luxury resort hotel at the estate. So, when my father was honored in 2007 with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Wine Enthusiast magazine, while we were tremendously honored, it’s also fair to say it came as little surprise!
Other than your own wine, who would you most like to sit and share a bottle of wine with and what would be that wine?

Princess Diana!! She was so graceful and loved her boys so much.  Even during her years of personal suffering and as the world watched, her charitable dedication to her country and the world never wavered!  I would say that it would have to be a first growth Haut Brion (1971)!

What is your greatest accomplishment?
Without question, my kids! They are so well adjusted.  It certainly is a challenge raising three kids…and the fourth being the business!!

Let’s chat about one of your brands for a moment?
Well, with fall approaching, and the holidays just ahead, I look forward to celebrating with our Rosa Regale red sparkling wine. Made from Brachetto grapes from our vineyards in Piedmont, northwest Italy, Rosa Regale is one of our fastest growing wines. It’s a deliciously festive pour, and men and women alike enjoy drinking it. It starts out sweet and finishes dry – not an easy balance to accomplish. Perfect for parties and all types of social occasions, it’s wonderful with hors d’oeuvres, as well as desserts – and a terrific match, by the way, with the Thanksgiving turkey!

Ellman Family Vineyards



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