New Tricks for the Wine World
After a fruitful but fatiguing few days at London Wine Fair back in May, one of our Rascals packed his bag, made his escape from Olympia (the closing down of which was starting to get a bit Mad Max) and headed into central London for a leisurely evening free of wine, marketing and business networking.
Well, that didn’t quite go to plan. Coincidentally, on that very same evening in Covent Garden, it just so happened there was a very different wine event going on, in what felt like an entirely different world to LWF. Red chinos and winklepickers were swapped with baggy workpants and slip-on trainers, notepads and brochures were swapped with skateboards, and the average age dropped by at least a generation. What was consistent, however, was a glass of wine, being enjoyed enthusiastically and respectably by everyone present.
The project itself was based entirely around winemaking. The skate team visited and skateboarded in several vineyards around Italy. The magazine itself serves as a great introduction to different wines and their regions.
Imagine our surprise when we realised that two of the four vineyards the team visited, were ones exclusive to the Rascal family!
We were ecstatic to see our old friends La Farra and Vignetti di Ettore amongst the photos in the magazine.
We were already excited to see such a different crowd enjoying good wine, but after that revelation, we had to find out more. We asked photographer Davide Biondani for some insight on why he took on the project, how it went down, and how it has been received since.
Hi Davide. First of all, what made you decide to incorporate wine and vineyards into a skateboarding magazine and video?
“At the magazine we organize different skateboard tours every year. Some of them are classic “skateboard trips”; you go to a city for a week, shoot some photos and film some tricks with skaters (usually a team) and that’s it. Sometimes you organize more structured projects with a concept behind.
Personally I’m very passionate about wine. I’m from Verona, Italy and wine is a strong part of our culture – every family in Italy has a bottle of good wine on the table for lunch and dinner. So the idea of matching these 2 “worlds” of wine and skateboarding comes from these personal passions.”
How do you think the wine aspect been received by your team and your readers?
“The guys in the team were amazed by the whole experience and the wine tasting. All of them are used to travelling all over the world and visiting some beautiful places, but it they don’t often have the chance to drive in beautiful settings like the countless “road of wines” we have in Italy, and to stop in fantastic wineries to taste the finest Valpolicella, Chianti, Barbaresco or Prosecco you can imagine. Everybody was hyped to be part of the project and very interested in all the information we got in the wineries. We are getting great feedback from readers and from everyone who attended the launch events in London and Verona, read the magazine or watched the video. This unusual combination has been really, really appreciated.”
I noticed that at the London event, the complimentary wine was gone quicker than the beer! Wine isn’t the typical drink of choice for the younger market, do you think projects like this could help to change that?
“Nowadays the “skateboard world” is made of many different personalities with different tastes. The classic cliché of skaters as beer drinkers has gone. Of course skaters drink beers, as everybody does, but there is more and more culture and varied interests between skateboarders all over the world, and quality food and quality wine are certainly a few of these.
Also the average age of skaters has grown. Today, a substantial proportion of skateboarders are over 30 years old and in many cases exceed 40, so it is normal to find more skaters interested in thing like wine and quality living.
Energy drink corporations invest millions in the skateboard market, as it is one of the most effective industries that sets all kinds of trends and influences younger generations. Hopefully with the “Sotto Torchio” project we have stimulated the interest in good wine, even in those who have never been interested in it. Drink a glass of good wine and be happy!”
Skaters at Vignetti di Ettore
Do you have any funny stories from the trip? Particularly any at the Vigneti di Ettore or La Farra wineries? They must have got a bit of a shock when you all walked in.
“Yes. Maybe we were not the “standard guests” for wine tasting… Marcus Marcoux, a skater-sommelier from Canada, our “wine-expert” for the trip, dyed his hair green for the occasion… It was pretty interesting watching him discussing tannins and maceration with winemakers for hours.
Everyone at the wineries welcomed us in a fantastic and professional way. They showed us the whole production process, the vineyards, the winery… everything. Before the tour it wouldn’t have been easy for them to understand what we do and what a skateboard tour is. For us it’s something normal, but imagine someone who knew nothing about skateboarding. It must hard to understand why we’d crossed the whole continent just to jump over one specific handrail behind one specific church.
When I contacted some wineries and explained the project we got some refusals. So thanks to all the winery owners who understood the potential of the project and opened their doors to us.
La Farra winery
They were actually super hyped on what we do and happy to have people coming from different countries to visit. They don’t often have young people tasting their wines and being so interested in them.
It was really intense and pleasant in equal measure. We visited four medium size, top quality wineries with a long family tradition, and we saw and effort the passion they put into their job. It’s the same passion and dedication skaters put into skateboarding everyday, trying their tricks again and again. We clicked straight away. Everything was natural and smooth.
Some funny stories?
Vigneti di Ettore was the first winery we went, there was a lot of hype and curiosity. We were there at 10am. Gimpaolo, the owner took us to the vineyard to show the harvest of the grapes they use for their Amarone. It was great to see the care they put in selecting only the best grapes.
Then we headed back to the winery for the tasting…. On the table there were these empty glasses where you were supposed to spit the wine, but a few of the guys spat… imagine drinking 8/9 glasses of Valpolicella at 10am. After the tasting we were supposed to go skating to film some tricks – the guys spent an hour lying in the garden instead. After a good lunch, we got some good tricks and footage in the streets of Verona… but it was hard. Lesson learnt from then on!
At La Farra, we tasted the finest Prosecco you can imagine. The extra dry one was magic. After the whole presentation, which was a bit formal at first, the Nardi family showed us their appreciation and told us they were stoked to have such unusual guests in their winery. Our visit ended with a little skateboarding demo for the Nardi family and the 2 kids were pretty amazed. We ended up giving them a brand new board.”