First, in a series of interviews about the world of wine, we speak with Simona Geri, the Winesetter, about Wine and Communication.
Simona Geri, wine communicator and Querciabella’s guest taster, is one of the most followed women in wine by the people on Instagram. And who better than her to talk about wine communication and how the role of Influencers go beyond what you see on Social Media.
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How do you define yourself professionally?
I do not like to call myself an “influencer”, though this is how others would probably describe me. My cooperation with wineries goes beyond social media, so I think of myself more as a Wine Communicator.
When did you start your social media activity?
In a way, it happened by chance when the company I worked for closed down. As you can imagine, looking for a new job at forty years old is not easy. As time went by, I lost hope in finding a suitable occupation in my field, so, following my husband’s advice, I opened a blog, activated my Instagram account, and decided to invest everything I had to turn my passion into a career. I have never looked back since!
What are the prerequisites to become a wine communicator?
Many will challenge the new wave of wine Instagrammers and Influencers as non-experts and question their credentials. I agree, in a way, that our work should stem from sound wine knowledge. When I started my social media activity, I was already a certified AIS sommelier, and I have never stopped learning since. That said, everyone’s journey is different, so is their communication style.
The role of Influencers in wine communication
Often, social media wine engagers get misunderstood and even frowned upon by the more traditional connoisseurs. Moreover, just as ten years ago, most advertising placements focus on the wine as a product defined by set attributes rather than how it can interact and matter to consumers.
As an experiential good, purchasing wine without tasting is often challenging. With the substantial growth in the use of digital media for wine branding, wineries can no longer ignore social media influencers’ ability to grasp the audience’s attention, especially when it comes to the new drinking generation.
In a nutshell, brands will only stand out with an exemplary overall communication and marketing strategy. A laborious achievement based on levers such as branding, social media, and design, among others, and influencer marketing only works effectively if adequately planned and executed.
How do you start cooperating with a winery?
Usually, producers get in touch after following me on social media. The first thing I ask is to taste their wines. If I like their products and philosophy, then we start setting the ground for collaboration. I cannot work with a winery if the wines are not to my liking.
How has your job as a Wine Communicator changed during this past year?
Without the events and with new dynamics shaping up, wineries finally realise that the role of wine communicators is not just to push a wine but also to let people see what’s behind it. In this fast-paced environment, it is fundamental to do things properly by producing quality contents, delivering engaging story-telling and sharing emotions through images and texts. People who follow me, my community, love wine, but they do not necessarily know enough. For this reason, I prefer using simple language that goes straight to the heart.
When did you realise your efforts were worth it?
When people started to reach out for recommendations about what to buy and producers began asking for my opinion about their wines.
What do you like about your job?
Visiting wineries, talking to producers, winemakers, agronomists. Giving voice to the stories behind the bottles and seeing the trust that people and wineries have in me.
And what are the negative aspects?
There are no set hours when you work on social media. It can get tiring from time to time. Also, sometimes you find yourself the target of personal attacks and social bullying for no reason other than your appearance. I’m very firm when dealing with this type of behaviour that unfortunately comes from men and women alike.
How did your collaboration with Querciabella begin?
I clearly remember when Sebastiano, the owner of Querciabella, messaged me on Instagram to compliment me on one of my descriptions of Batàr. We then became friends and spent a lot of time talking about wine. I had the honour to be present at one memorable dinner with a few friends of his, and only after some time, he asked me to collaborate. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life, a dream come true.
Batàr’s inimitable signature
Batàr is the only white wine produced at Querciabella and arguably one of the most iconic Tuscan and Italian white wines. It has earned its stripes on the global wine stage thanks to its exquisite layered complexity that not only defies age but improves over time.
The first vintage of Batàr to be officially released was 1988. At the time, it amounted to just two barrels of pure Pinot Blanc from vineyards located near Querciabella cellar in Ruffoli, on the hillside of Greve in Chianti. The Burgundian influence behind this wine was never kept secret but revered, and the wine initially appeared as ‘Bâtard-Pinot’, a homage to the great wine of Montrachet. Between 1992 and 1994, the wine was briefly called ‘Bâtard’, after the introduction of Chardonnay brought freshness and zest to the blend. Finally, in 1995 it became ‘Batàr’ for the reasons we all can imagine.
Through the years, new plantings at higher altitudes – vineyards now reach almost 600 meters above sea level for Chardonnay and 500 meters for Pinot Blanc – coupled with the transition to organic agriculture, first and vegan biodynamics later, and patient maturation in barrel have steadily forged Batàr’s inimitable signature.
Those who follow you know it well. How did your passion for Batàr start?
It was my birthday in 2001. The man who would become my husband and father to my daughter Giada organised a surprise dinner in a beautiful restaurant and asked me to marry him. That was my first encounter with Batàr.
How would you describe Batàr to those who have never tasted it?
Batàr is my favourite Italian white wine because it feeds my soul. It is distinctive, full-bodied and lush, exuding intense ripe fruit aromas with honey, spices and subtle hints of toasty oak. Its complexity is only rivalled by its fantastic ability to defeat time.
With the help of Simona, we have selected three iconic vintages of Batàr for a trilogy which is, to say the least, extraordinary.
The 2002 vintage is a real rarity. Due to the wet conditions that characterised the vintage, we decided at the time to make only 3,000 bottles of almost entirely Pinot Bianco. While less opulent in style, it has definitely stood the test of time. In a recent vertical tasting at the winery, we were astonished at how fresh and expressive it was!
On the other end, the 2011 vintage stunned everyone who tasted it with its ample, rich palate and tropical notes, leaving us wondering if we would ever be able to make such a luscious, almost exotic version of Batàr ever again.
The last gem of the trilogy is Batàr 2016, a champion of varietal precision and tension. It perfectly embodies the change of style and focus enabled by winemaker Manfred Ing. As the climate has tended to warm in the last decade, bâtonage is done more reticently, and less new oak is now used for the wine’s maturation to let the fruit fully express itself.
The limited-edition box of Batar Trilogy is available to buy through our Wine Club in 3 or 6 bottle wooden boxes.