A unique family, three generations and a dream: bringing the apulian wine in the world.

How has this company changed from Rocco Lamonarca in 1947 to Rocco Lamonarca of today?

Our winery was founded as a plant for the transformation of grapes into wine that was sold in cisterns throughout northern Italy and abroad. Our generation’s entry into the company introduced the bottling process, the brand “Bella Vite” of our property and eco-sustainable packaging, easily recyclable and transportable in order to minimize CO2 emissions. We continue to study solutions to replace plastic materials  with others that do not pollute the environment and already today Lamonarca is
considered a zero-emission company as it is fully powered by solar panels.

You bear the same name as your grandfather, studied oenology, can we say that you are a predestined?

It’s true that I have been passionate about it since I was a child, but it has actually been my uncle Franco to transmit it to me. Let me make a premise: I was born here in the company, all the family lived here in the factory. Where today there are the offices there were once our homes. Since childhood our playgrounds were the spaces of the wine cellar, my cousins and I enjoyed unloading the grapes, playing with the pomace, discovering the beautiful colors of the fermenting must and smells. It was uncle Franco who made me fall in love with this job making me taste wines since I was a child, always bringing me together with him in laboratory when he did the analyses, when he contracted in the markets, when he visited the big fairs. I was  destined and I’m glad I was.

How difficult is it today to take this legacy and give it a perspective?

Prospects are there but it is very difficult because times have changed. Today there is a lot of bureaucracy, certifications
to follow, controls to carry out. On one hand we have the European Community very rigid towards this sector, on the other hand we find ourselves in a market that suffers many foreign interferences and therefore to confront us with a non-European competition that has different operating costs from ours and hygienic-sanitary controls different from the ones we have to respect.

Speaking of which, is it sufficient today to say that a product is “made in Italy” to win in the marketplace?

Made in Italy, yes, but you have to do much more: there is a brand to be built, there is the quality to be offered, there is
the need to give answers to a consumer who is increasingly careful about the standards. People are more and more
demanding, they read the packages, pay more attention to the labels and of course, also to the taste. This also creates a
relationship of trust with millions of end consumers who never want to be betrayed.

Yours is a mid-range product in terms of price, is it a choice or have you filled a market gap?

It is part of our commercial policy defined by Rosamaria Lamonarca together with the rest of the family. We have chosen
to cover the first price range that we find in a supermarket, however we aim to be among the first ones in terms of
quality in this market segment. This is a strategy that has rewarded us since after ten years we have achieved significant
production volumes.

How does a provincial entrepreneurial reality like yours convince the great distribution throughout Italy to buy their own wine?

The seriousness, quality and productivity. These are our values. Large- scale distribution needs exactly this. Credibility first of all, then we make a product whose quality is recognized by the customers themselves and finally we know how to be competitive and therefore  good at reducing costs compared to other competitors.

I see here all around instruments that would look good in a chemical lab: How is exactly your working day?

I wake up around 6 a.m., at 6.40 a.m. I’m in the company and my routine starts like this (even if there is hardly a routine).
Actually, my work starts even earlier, at the bottling process, with the preparation of batches of wine of considerable
size. We store these enormous masses of wine on which the analyses are then carried out which concern the presence
of pesticides and other extraneous subsubstances that determine their presence in the market. Other analyses are used to
define quality, to align grading, to fine-tune the points of color, aromas and taste. This is followed by the clarification of the
wine in order to make it clear and deprive it of the bad aromas that over time the product tends to acquire naturally. It is
a real work of “bland”, of cuts, to confer better aromatic and taste characteristics than other products.

When I enter a supermarket, what should I read on the label of a wine to recognize good quality?

In the label it is always important to verify the production area: I wonder why a consumer in southern Italy should buy
wine produced in the north. The South of Italy is a world leader in the production of wines, buying products from our land
means also supporting the companies and the economy of our territory.

Let’s go back to your family. What’s the added value your generation has given to this company?

We have made a leap in the commercial chain: from a company specialized in winemaking, today Lamonarca has added packaging and bottling. It is an important added value in line with what is happening in recent years in Puglia, in the Salento in particular: our region has always been considered the reservoir of wine of Italy, now thanks to the commitment of many small-medium businesses, Apulian wines have been positioned in the upper part of the commercial chain with an excellent quality standard. Our goal for the near future is to create a line in glass bottle from 0.75 liters, bringing the best of our native vines to large-scale distribution: primitive, Negroamaro, Nero di Troia, fiano, susumaniello.

How much wine do you produce each year?

We are talking about 35 million liter of wine a year. We distribute wine in bulk in tanks in Germany, Czech Republic and
England. The packaged product can be found all over Italy with our brands Bella Vite and Che Vino, but also with the
private labels Selex, Eurospin, MM, Decobben in Northern Italy and other small brands that we are developing. Abroad
the packaged product arrives in Japan, Malta, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania and Ghana.

Really? Do we also find the Bella Vite di Ruvo di Puglia wine in Ghana, in Africa?

Yes, of course, the Government of Ghana has chosen us as official suppliers of wine throughout the country.

How did you get there?

Ah, they called us! We don’t even know how… maybe thanks to our website or maybe the social networks… they started market research, asked for bids around. Our proposal was the most competitive. So we became official suppliers in all the country. I forgot… in all MSC Cruises ships the wine in carafe is produced by Lamonarca.

Ah well, then when during the cruises we see those cheerful tourists …

(Rocco smiles amused)… yes when you see them cheerful it is my merit. Apart from the jokes, we have reached this other important goal thanks to my cousin Rosamaria that with so much dedication, sacrifice and work can reach the large distribution as well as these parallel markets, which are difficult to deal with.

In all this, however, let’s not forget that within the Lamonarca group there is the oil business as well?

It’s always there and it’s always more important. It is not a coincidence that in 2017 we created a new Opificio, a modern crusher separated from this plant and technologically advanced which has reached a milling capacity of 3,000 quintals of olives per day. Also in this case we started out with the production and marketing of oil in tanks, today we have instead the oil inside a line of glass bottles of 0.50, 0.75 and 1 liter very particular and refined. In terms of quality, extra virgin olive oil has even higher standards than in wine, which is why our mission in this case is not the large distribution that sometimes on the oils does not pay much attention to quality. We produce only extra virgin oil from coratina specialties dedicated to a clientele extremely selected.

Where can I buy this great quality oil?

At the moment it can only be found at our oil mill but we are slowly developing our sales network.

Next challenge?

Produce wine in bottles of 750 ml, bottle native wines and take Puglia around the world.