Alumni Giulio A. Pagni, an Italian wine grower in Catalonia, funded Giulio & Gaia Viticultors in 2021 after the lockdown.

Briefly tell us about the path that led you to Pollenzo for the Master in Food Communication?
The path that led me to enrol in the Master in Food Culture, Communication and Marketing was the most tortuous and convoluted possible. I studied economics and business and worked for four years before realizing that this was not my path. In parallel, I had always had a great passion for gastronomy in general and wine in particular. My grandma was a great cook, and from an early age, she passed on to me the passion for cooking and the attention to detail in the kitchen. Besides being a great drinker of Tuscan red wines, my father made me grow up on bread and wine. My mother, on the other hand, taught me the importance of the quality of raw materials in the kitchen.

My desire to travel and the search for new food and wine worlds, markets, flavours, recipes and traditions convinced me that I could not confine gastronomy to a simple pastime. I was very frustrated from a working point of view, so I decided to give up everything and join UNISG to channel this passion and deepen the world of gastronomy with Slow Food’s “good, clean and fair” approach, which, for me, is the only possible approach in this world.

How was your passion for wine born, and what do you recommend to someone like you who would like to start their own production?
As mentioned before, a great responsibility of my passion for wine comes from my father, who, as a young man, together with his dear friends, produced a red wine in an artisanal way that was only drinkable one year out of two. This experience of his has always fascinated me a lot.
And then, like many Piedmontese, I started drinking wine at a very young age thanks to the constant presence of Moscato D’Asti at various birthdays and parties.
Growing up, I realized that wine was not just a question for Piedmontese, Tuscans and French but rather that it belonged, in different ways, to the history and culture of many countries and millions of people. I started to read simple texts on wine here and there and, above all, drank a lot.

The more I became aware of the contents of the glass I was holding, the more I wanted to continue to know and discover the history and tradition behind that glass. I love that dealing with wine means dealing with a timeless tool of sociability and joy that allows you to know ever-changing tastes, stories and worlds. Behind a glass of red Etna, you can find minerality, warmth, smoky notes, the sun, and the typical aromas of Sicily. Behind a Pfalz Riesling, there is an entirely different history and culture; a sip and its incredible freshness immediately takes you to the banks of the Rhine. By drinking authentic and natural wines, you have the opportunity to travel and get in touch with distant and different worlds… always with a smile on your lips, thanks to the unique ability of wine to bring a good mood to the table.

How can you not be passionate about the world of wine?!

I would like to say two simple things for those who want to start a new business linked to wine production: study a lot – from work in the vineyard to that in the cellar, to the tasting part, and the history and geography of wine – and start having experiences in different wineries (perhaps in other countries) as soon as possible so as not to arrive late in having the right skills to produce your own wine.


What values ​​did UNISG transmit to you, and how do they enrich your daily work?
UNISG has undoubtedly given me, as I said before, the vision of “good, clean and fair”, which, I repeat, is the only possible approach. It also allowed me to study and deepen my gastronomy knowledge and skill on many different products: wine, coffee, cheese, olive oil, and many others. Experiencing food and wine culture at 360 degrees enriches you in your daily life and certainly helps you to improve the fruit of your labour.

My daily work helped me understand the importance of the history and tradition of different wines and how to respect them by adding something personal to try to offer a unique product. At the same time, it taught me the importance of always looking for quality and, in any case, the desire never to be satisfied with learning new things. I expect that it becomes even more enjoyable in the world of wine because it means always trying new and different wines. 

Wine is perhaps one of the products most often associated with the concept of ‘traditional’. What challenges did you face in creating a new wine business?
Before answering, I would like to specify that we are only in the first year and that it is not yet our main activity. My girlfriend, Gaia, and I continue to have another job to be able to support ourselves. But the ultimate goal is to devote ourselves entirely to the cellar and wine when this is possible.

The “traditional” is fundamental for us. But at the same time, it is a small obstacle for us Italian winegrowers in Catalonia. At first, it wasn’t easy to find a vineyard to work without the intercession of another Catalan producer in the area. Little by little, we are managing, thanks to work and commitment, to win the trust of local vignerons and farmers, and this is a source of great pride for us. The fact that we speak Catalan has undoubtedly helped us a lot.

But when I said that for us being traditional is fundamental, I am referring to the fact that, for the moment, we only cultivate Xarel.lo, a native vine of Penedes, and we elaborate “brisat” wines, macerated on the skins as they used to do here many years ago. We refine the wine in chestnut barrels, very typical in the region and more common than imported French or American oak …

And for us, the rich Catalan wine and gastronomic tradition were crucial in choosing to settle in this beautiful land that we fell in love with and of which we share the values, especially those of openness and integration.