Miriam Lee Masciarelli, the new generation comes of age

by Annalucia Galeone 01/15/20
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Marina Cvetic e Miriam Lee Masciarelli

The eldest of Gianni Masciarelli and Marina Cvetic’s three children is already on track to move the family estate forward, together with her mother.

Abruzzo is an authentic, complete and extraordinary region that has never been the product of marketing and communication campaigns. It has many estates that produce very good wines and Montepulciano is one of the varietals most in demand, one which needs producers who know how to interpret its excellence, lead players who with courage, skill and deep passion combat the clichés that still exist about this wine.

Gianni Masciarelli changed the fate of Abruzzo wine by lifting it out of the ordinary. He was a visionary, one not willing to compromise and who paid no attention prejudices and never settled for mediocracy. Gianni introduced grape selection, Guyot-trained vines and French oak barrels to a region that suffered the same fate as regions in southern Italy where the wines produced were not appreciated and used mostly for cutting or blending with other wines or to be sold in bulk. Unfortunately, life can be cruel and he left us too soon.

Gianni set up his first winery on his return from Champagne in 1981. His estate now has 320 hectares of vineyards that produce five lines of wine: Classica, Gianni Masciarelli, Villa Gemma, Marina Cvetic and Castello di Semivicoli. The wines are all expressions of their varietal and terroir and are exported to 44 countries. The central estate is in San Martino sulla Marrucina, near Chieti, and there are others in the provinces of Pescara, Teramo and L’Aquila. The heredity Gianni left is both a heavy burden and a privilege at the same name time.

Gianni set up his first winery on his return from Champagne in 1981. His estate now has 320 hectares of vineyards that produce five lines of wine: Classica, Gianni Masciarelli, Villa Gemma, Marina Cvetic and Castello di Semivicoli. The wines are all expressions of their varietal and terroir and are exported to 44 countries. The central estate is in San Martino sulla Marrucina, near Chieti, and there are others in the provinces of Pescara, Teramo and L’Aquila. The heredity Gianni left is both a heavy burden and a privilege at the same name time.

Today, the estate is in the hands of Marina Cvetic, Gianni’s widow who serves as CEO, and Miriam Lee Masciarelli, the eldest of their three children, and together they handle everything and, being on the same wavelength, they often do not need words. This is not always easy between two generations, which often have different visions. These two women both have a strong personality but each compliments the other. Marina is determined, curious and hyperactive. With the same zeal she takes care of her children and dogs and cultivates her passion for interior design and restoration. At the estate she has introduced initiatives focusing on innovation and sustainability. And she has time for all of this because she sleeps very little.

Miriam Lee earned a degree in Economics and Management from the LUISS university in Rome and is the estate’s Brand Manager. As a child she would accompany her parents on their business trips and this way got to know all phases of wine production. And she grew up tasting the great wines of Barolo, Bordeaux and Burgundy. “My father was a very wise man and he taught me a lot,” Miriam Lee said, “most important was the sense of quality of life that he gave me. In order to make wine, he told me, you have to breathe beauty from when you are young and accept it as an esthetic and intellectual pleasure. He was obsessed by a constant quest for quality and improvement. I remember him saying “quality is not something you remember once a year but must be constantly on your mind, from the moment you wake up in the morning to when you go to sleep at night”. He also told me that if I wanted to make wine then I had to know every aspect, from the vineyard through production and then marketing and sales. Otherwise, I should do something else. As you can see, I am following his advice”.

As is the case for all children who follow in their parents’ footsteps, the time comes when you have to decide whether you want to work in the family enterprise. Miriam Lee went to the United States when she was 23 to gain experience with another company and this above all to better understand her limits, talents and passions. It was then that she understood what her place in the world would be. “European wine but above all Italian wine is glocal and this is our strength,” Miriam Lee underscored. “Glocal in the sense of communicating local values on a global scale through wine. What people appreciate the most is not the technical aspect of a wine but above all the territory it is from, its history, culture and tradition. Usually, when I’m abroad, I speak for two hours about Abruzzo and only the last ten minutes about the wine. In order to be able to judge a wine, I am absolutely convinced you first have to know where it is from and who it is the “child” of. By doing this you can talk about and promote an entire region, create a brand that benefits the collective and not the single individual”.

 
 
 

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