~ Harry Mariani (far right)  1937-2016 ~

Harry Mariani, the former President of Banfi Vintners died January 5th in Huntington, New York.  

Working with his brother John,  Harry introduced Americans to a fizzy red wine called Lambrusco  during the 1970’s and 1980’s.  The phenomenal success of their Riunite brand laid the foundation for an even more successful wine venture;  the creation of the Castello Banfi estate in Montalcino in 1977.  

Harry recalls that although the promise of the land was clearly exceptional for viticulture, it was also the one rare place in Tuscany where large parcels of land could be purchased.  4,500 acres of land were acquired and the Mariani’s invested enormous sums of money to hire expert consultants, agronomists, vineyard managers and winemakers.  Today, Castello Banfi stands at the forefront of Brunello production and their estate in Montalcino is a prime destination.  

When Brunello exploded in popularity during the 1990’s, much of the credit for the awareness and accessibility of the wine in America rests with the efforts of John and Harry Mariani.   They put Brunello on the map in the United States and in a similar sense, put Montalcino on the map for the world.  

~ Castello Banfi in Montalcino ~

I had the pleasure of meeting Harry and just like the rest of the Mariani family,  he introduced himself to me as though he had known me for decades.  Relaxed, down to earth, and passionate about Italian wine,  Harry leaves a chasm that will be difficult to bridge.   He will be missed.  
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