Piera Martellozzo is a sophisticated Italian winemaker specialised in high-end organic wines, Piera1899 having been one of the first wine estates to believe in organic grape-growing and to see that this would become a market of importance more than 25 years ago. The company was founded in the 19th century, and when we meet the elegant and courteous 3rd generation Piera Martellozzo in The Phoenicia Malta’s airy Palm Court, she embodies the grace of a wine legend while sipping on her very Italian coffee. With a vision to create wines that could stand out against the best in the world, Piera has been the driving force behind the growth of the family business for 3 decades.
Namesake and descendant of the founder, with 120 years of history behind her, Piera has chosen to harness the knowledge of three generations and set out on a new adventure defined by a Steppic Climate on a 100 hectares of the most beautiful vineyards in Northern Italy near the Dolomites, focusing on selecting the best vines and producing stylish, modern wines, dynamically packaged, which are a pleasure to drink and share. Embracing tradition whilst looking to the future, Piera has always worked to a single objective: obtaining the best quality possible in wines which are a joy to drink.
From the very first establishment of a new way of creating wines for the international market, Piera has been specialising in high- quality bio-production of still and sparkling wines following a distinctive Italian method of winemaking. Despite the legacy, nowadays Piera Martellozzo represents one of the newest Italian global brands, donating a sense of high modern style mixed with a unique and specific consolidated winemaking tradition.
Piera’s soul is in her wine, she says, “We map places, identify the most promising plots, extract must which expresses all the grapes”. Her sense of the final product is best summed up from a recent statement by the winemaker; “Places suffused with know- how, beauty and traditions born in the midst of Veneto villas and vestiges of the historic Venetian Republic are cut through with a legacy of knowledge which is decanted into every single glass of Piera 1899 wine.”
Piera’s vineyards are swept by cool breezes wafting off the famous limestone Dolomites, balanced by a moderating humid wind cannily guided up from the Adriatic. It makes for “a unique microclimate,” explains Piera, with ample rainfall on the fast-draining gravel soils fastidiously tended by 40 dedicated families of this matriarch’s family winery, allowing the vines to develop aromatic characteristics in the grapes.
Founded in 1899 by Giovanni Martellozzo and developed by Piera’s father, Mario, the winery has been transformed over the last 27 years by Piera who now distributes her formidable collection of wines to over 40 countries. Impressive innovation has been her signature in this generation. Starting with a ‘back-to-basics’ approach, she reinvented how Piera grows and makes wine, fits into the marketplace, and produces products that are beautiful to look at and even better to taste.
She embraced that she was a woman in a male-dominated industry and since 1992 has pursued her own distinctive management style that begins in carefully considered ideas, which her team then takes to the world’s markets. Piera’s legacy in the business
pre-empted and you could argue, shaped, today’s wine trends. Piera was among the first in the region, and in the world, to produce organic wines; beginning in the early ’90s when the term ‘organic’ was little used and even less understood. Now flourishing under the winery’s “Pura Terra” label, Martellozzo’s four sustainably grown wines are among the almost 30 wines the company produces.
As part of her enlightened management, early-on she introduced a professional marketing person into the company, who is as close as possible to the ticking-heart of everything happening in the winery, and who is responsible for articulating the essence of the viticultural and wine-producing operations to external marketing partners; who work on world-class packaging that rivals the best from any luxury goods sector. The iconic blue glass bottles of Blu Giovello Prosecco and Pinot Grigio being two shining examples of this marketing prowess.
Over the course of her travels, Piera gets to know everyone involved with handling her cherished wines, a vast network of agents, prestige restaurants, luxury hotels and speciality stores. She herself is the “face of the brand”, embodying all that her team strives for in perfecting their craft, to deliver flavours in the wines that accurately match those in the grapes which are rigorously maintained to international certification standards
Born from “the sea and sky”, Piera says Blu Giovello embodies the identity of Italy, as well as a blending of the grape world with youth. This is characteristic of Piera’s philosophy, bridging ideas into new realities which can emotionally connect with a new audience for her wines. It also embodies a dialectical leap of combining the traditional native Glera grape, with all its minerality and backbone from the gravelly, porous lands of Friuli Grave, with brilliant marketing.
Before Piera leaves for an exhausting day of doing the rounds, she says quite humbly that she is still learning from all the people around her, all individually hand-picked to form part of an industrious team, and you can clearly see the passion in her face as she talks about her journey in the wine business. As the face of the brand, Piera Martellozzo is an embodiment of elegance and vision, tied to a keenly attuned sense of what is right in nature and right for the world.
With her son joining the business, a new generation will have this formidable business-woman to look to for inspiration. Her latest thinking on wine is about developing and selling incredible wines that use the 5 senses. “Wines are for positive moments, good moments,” she relates as she ushers in the fourth generation of good moments for this energetic and creative winemaker.
Always on the move, Piera says, . “I love Malta!”, and she adds, “And this wonderful hotel, I have been here to Malta probably 20 times, for holidays, for business and holidays, and just for business.” A smile creeps across her face, making wine has made her into a world traveller, not bad for someone who entered a business knowing nothing about wine.