What made you organize an international event like RO Wine?
Each festival in Romania has one or more specific attributes, depending on what they want to offer to the consumers. When we started, we felt that there were two aspects that needed to be addressed. First, the direct interaction between the owner of the wineries and the wine consumers. Instead of hired personnel or sales people, the owners and the winemakers are those who can tell the true story of their business, the secrets behind each bottle and label. They hold answers that no one else has and you would be surprised to hear some of the questions the consumers ask...
Second, all wine festivals in Romania were addressing all the segment of the market, following the "first come, first served" principle and I don't think that's a viable solution for premium and superpremium wines. So we started by making a drastic selection of wine producers, then we put a limit of five labels for each producer and, most important, we allowed into the festival only those wines that we previously tasted and approved. This is a major guarantee for consumers that the price they pay for the ticket will not be wasted money. On the other hand, it's a guarantee for producers that they will not be surrounded by lower-quality producers. And, in order to offer each producer the same opportunity to introduce themselves to the public, the booths a standard, you can not "steal" consumers with glamour or by occupying wider spaces.
In the world of wine, who do you most admire and why?
I really admire the wine producers, those people who have wine running through their veins. In fact, there was this admiration that has drawn me towards the wine. In Italy, where most of them are descendants from families that made wine for centuries, there is a certain attitude that cannot but impress you, a warm-hearted feeling of belonging that that place, that vineyard, that piece of land, its history and its traditions. And they are people who work hard, day-in, day-out, all year around.
What’s your all-time favorite food and wine pairing?
There are many, but these days I discovered how much I enjoy the gourmet street food with Champagne. It's fun.
What is one of the most rewarding things about your job?
To be able to inspire people, to show them that the wine can make us better. When you find yourself in front of a glass of wine, exploring it with all your senses, you have to be true to yourself and to the wine, you have to drop all the masks, all the social conventions and just be there. There are many lessons to be learnt from wine and the honesty it forces you into makes the perfect circumstance to find out new things about yourself. The wine culture is pure food for the mind and soul.
What makes a wine expensive?
Many things, from the amount of grapes harvested per hectare to the type of barrel used for ageing. But that can only bring a bottle of wine to - say - 40-50 euros. The rest is economy, the price is formed by supply and demand. Constant quality, tradition, brand recognition and scarcity of supply is always a recipe for higher prices. Just think that from the day the first bottle of a vintage from any produces is opened, the amount of available bottles will only decrease. As people find out about the quality of that wine, the demand will increase. So prices being shifted in time, sometimes even hijacked, is in fact normal.