Italian wine import in US

Today we talk with Oliver McCrum. After working many years in the retail and distribution sides of the business in New York, London, and San Francisco, Oliver began importing and distributing wines on his own in 1994. The portfolio had been Italian focused for many years but in 2007, he decided to focus exclusively on the import of Italian wine in US. Oliver got to meet Cincinnato wine blog and story in Vinitaly some time back.

As Oliver McCrum tells us, when he started there were a few famous wine types like Classico or a Soave, for example, but there was much less understanding of Italian wines than there was of French wines.

oliver mccrum wines united states

“At the beginning, there was a sort of trend in Italy in cultivating the international types, like Cabernet or Chardonnay. With indigenous varieties, like Bellone and Nero Buono from Cincinnato, you can tell a real story there. Social stories are very important because when the quality of the wine is the fundamental thing”.

“Lazio production is not well understood, and in a way it is also a good news, as we can really start from scratch, with no knowledge from the customers, so we do not need to worry about what people thought previously. I don’t mind telling a completely new story”.

As Oliver tells us, it is not just about the story, but about the great taste of Bellone and Nero Buono, and the fair price which corresponds to such a product.

As he underlines, not only is community one of the distinctive characters of Cincinnato, but also the cooperative as a business form that simply does not exist in US. In this sense, it could become a key to understand what it is outside Rome.

oliver mccrum
“Wine hospitality is not just marketing. It is something real, something you touch and interact with. Cincinnato gives all of this”

So, we ask how the wine market is now moving in US.

“America still has a strong tendency to drink wine by itself, as opposed to with food. One of the big differences is that Americans do still tend to drink wine sometimes without food. And that sometimes changes the kind of wines they drink. But I think that wine is moving in a good direction in the US. I think the reputation of wine is more accessible than it was a generation ago. And the effect of the natural wine movement is an interesting side note”.

Just the last remarks from him “I feel lucky because Italy has so many different realities, so many different places where a good wine is grown. That it’s very exciting for me to learn. It’s a constant new challenge to learn about wine and its stories. Cincinnato is a great wine and a great story!”.