We sat down with Jacopo Bacci, the export manager at Bacci Wines, to talk about growing up at the epicenter of Tuscany’s winemaking culture and working in one of the world’s most venerable wine regions.
Words by Jennifer Papa
Jacopo Bacci was born and raised in Florence, known worldwide as the capital of the wine region of Chianti. The Bacci family has a long tradition of winemaking, and it began producing Chianti in 1984. Today, they are proprietors of several estates of impressive antiquity, some tracing back to the twelfth century, that are located in the Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino regions, as well as in Maremma in the south of Tuscany.
First things first: What do you like to drink?
When I travel the world, I have the honor to meet producers from other continents and the opportunity to taste wonderful products from so many unusual wine regions. My personal cellar is full of bottles from various winemakers, and having to choose favorites would be a grueling task. But with that said, I’d never turn down a glass of pinot noir from Burgundy, syrah from Côtes du Rhône, or good champagne.
What are your favorite food pairings with those particular wines?
Honestly, I’m not a big believer in classic wine-and-food pairings. I prefer to keep an open mind and a curious palate, and I often find that my preferences change with the season and with the company and my mood.
Were you always sure you wanted to join the family business?
Maybe not when I was very young, but as soon as I finished university, I jumped right into the family business. Initially, I was more involved with the production side, but later I discovered I was better suited for sales.
What would you say are the joys and challenges of working in one of the world’s oldest and most famous wine regions?
Most people I meet are rather in awe of my origin—Tuscany to them is like the land of milk and honey. In terms of business, our ancient heritage is a huge advantage, but sometimes it can be a fetter that keeps you from moving forward at a modern pace. Of course, the advantages more than outweigh any challenges.
How do you successfully combine tradition with innovation in the wine industry?
For a wine to succeed, it has to have the right combination of tradition and innovation. Tradition, because it has to reflect the territory where it was born, and innovation, because it has to arouse people’s curiosity and appeal to the restless palate of today’s consumer. Whoever can find that right balance will be very successful in the market.
Are there any exciting markets you’re trying to penetrate right now?
We distribute our wine labels in more than thirty countries now, but today our emphasis is on increasing the number of distribution points in the Far East, countries like China, Thailand, and Singapore.
If you had the chance to start a wine estate anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I love South African wines, and I think the country has great potential. The terrain and the climate are both optimal for grape growing and winemaking.
In conclusion: How do you dress when you’re representing Bacci Wines around the world?
A successful salesman has to know how to put his clients at ease, and that includes dressing for the occasion. For example, when I meet clients in New York or Hong Kong, I follow a more formal dress code—it’s just a way to show respect. But in easy-going places like Miami, or in the heat of Texas, of course I dress accordingly. Getting too elaborate or formal would give the wrong impression. But whenever I’m traveling, no matter if it’s formal or informal, I always represent “Made in Italy” everywhere I go.