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Interview with Marisa Cuomo and Andrea Ferraioli

This month we share the story of a truly outstanding winery and two truly exemplary entrepreneurs: Marisa Cuomo and Andrea Ferraioli. Here is the full interview, also reported in June’s De-LAB newsletter. Happy reading! 

Chingola Can you tell us the most important moments of your entrepreneurial journey as founder of Marisa Cuomo Winery? 

The company was born as a wedding gift from my husband, who came from a family of winemakers for generations. This choice at the time caused quite a stir: to put a business in the name of a woman and in a non-mechanizable terrain such as the Amalfi Coast…seemed like a real gamble. Despite much mistrust, we began to carry out a work of recovery and restoration of the terracing and vines, saving them from extinction and reviving a rugged terrain, with wall-to-wall vines lying on vertical poles. In 39 years of activity we preside over 50 hectares in 13 municipalities, 40 of them in Furore (SA). In 1995 we received DOC certification, establishing a catalog field where 42 grape varieties and 4 historical vines dwell, linked to the territory of Furore, the only recognized and classified as “fjord” in southern Europe, at 700 m above sea level.  The start of operations was very complicated because the wines of the Amalfi Coast did not have a big name and in addition we had to fight against a harsh landscape, a difficult land to work. Ours is a life dedicated to wine production.

http://saouna-massage-naturiste.fr/?makaronik=site-rencontre-avec-footballeur&150=c3 Has being a woman in a very traditional industry like winemaking helped you more or held you back? 

In 1982 I was one of the first women, if not the first, with the name printed on the bottle. I aroused a lot of curiosity but I always felt comfortable … maybe also because of my character: I do everything, even the grape harvest, surrounded by my workers, working with them. I was saved by not having specific training but knowing how to listen to the land, without following fashions.  

Saugor If you had to give two pieces of advice to young entrepreneurs in your industry, what would you recommend? 

Moving forward requires patience and determination. One must never give up at the first obstacle: fall and get back up … never give up. Work should be done because one likes it, not because one earns money. Then one must respect the work one does and sacrifice for it. In our case, in 40 years of work we never gave up on the idea of producing a simple drink: it took us 13 years before we were successful. 

Grapevine is one of the most important economic sectors for the Italian economy: if you had the chance to make some improvements to make it even more competitive, what would you do

It depends a lot on the regions: in ours, Campania, we need to support generational turnover and bring young people closer to this kind of work. There are very few young people who want to work the land, partly because in our case it is difficult and it is not mechanizable: everything is done by hand, as it used to be, because space is tight. In any case, I think to raise the bar we need to focus on the individual entrepreneur rather than the sector, generating ideal working conditions for farmers and focusing on quality rather than volume. Then a lot of serious communication is needed, really telling the potential of the area and the specifics of production. 

In your work, how important is environmental sustainability? Can you give us examples of green projects or processes that work in your industry?

In our company we are very attentive to the issue. We do not use chemicals to wash the tanks and the cellar (we use steam); in the vineyards, the arbors are on chestnut poles instead of metal. We use no pesticides or glyphosate, no plastic to tie the shoots but willow twigs. We have chosen a certified integrated pest management farming protocol: we nitrogenate the soil with cut grass–it costs more but we respect our land. Our infrastructure is also environmentally friendly: our new headquarters will be certified class A++ , one of the very few in Italy. Then again, let’s say that the terrain in Furore, where we operate, is so rugged that you either respect it or you don’t work. Just think that not even the infamous “Land of Fires” could go as far as our fjord, halfway between sea and hill…too impervious. We operate in a difficult but balanced ecosystem and so we want to maintain it. 

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