Fresh Plantings: Villa Banfi builds on success importing Italian Wine

Villa Banfi builds on success

The summer home of the Italian Prime Minister? A rambling country estate in Emilia-Romagna? No. Villa Banfi is the name of the largest U.S. importer of Italian wines (1982 revenues: about $250 million). Once the 65-year-old Long Island company was simply a modest seller of specialty wines like Marsala. But that all changed in 1967, when the Mariani brothers, John Jr., 51, and Harry, 45, traveled to Italy and sampled Riunite Lambrusco, a light red wine of the Emilia-Romagna region. The brothers struck a deal with the local growers' association and initially shipped 100 cases to the...

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