Helena Morgana Germanetto

Juliana Colangelo, Vice President at Colangelo & Partners, the prominent wine and spirits communications agency in the U.S., delves into the expansion of the Italian wine category within the flourishing Florida market.

Florida, currently the fastest-growing state in the U.S., stands as the third-largest state, following California and Texas, according to the 2022 Census report. The state’s population witnessed a 1.9% increase, reaching 22,244,823 between 2021 and 2022. Simultaneously, with this population growth, there has been a noticeable surge in on-premise establishments and wine-focused events.

Speaking with Juliana, Bruce Hunter, Shaw Ross Managing Director, discussed the promising prospects within the Florida market for Italian wines.

With his extensive experience in the market since 1995, Bruce has observed the evolution of Florida’s multifaceted international market. 

During the pandemic, Florida’s open environment attracted numerous individuals, leading to diverse culinary preferences and tastes. Despite the competitive wine scene, consumers are increasingly willing to invest in quality wines, especially in the above $15 category, fostering a growing fondness for Italian wines in the region.

Fine dining restaurants, particularly Italian ones, have proliferated, providing a significant advantage for Italian wines, especially those in the premium category. 

Contrary to the misconception that warm climates deterred red wine consumption, Barolos and Brunellos have gained popularity, as well as other prominent, premium Italian red wines, captivating wine enthusiasts with vertical tastings. Restaurants have indeed responded by offering multiple vintages to meet this demand.

Florida’s hospitality and leisure industry, according to TaxWatch, is one of the fastest-growing sectors, with a projected 11.9% growth in 2021. Established restaurants have elevated their standards concerning wine lists and cuisine to keep up with the increasing offerings.

Italian wines, with their exceptional variety, appeal to a wide range of palates, making it crucial for producers and companies to focus on the Florida market. 

Strategic targeting of wine events emphasizing education for restaurateurs and retail store owners, who represent the buyers of the future, is essential. It is imperative to recognize that Florida is not just Miami; markets like Naples, Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, and Panama City are equally vibrant, being winter residences for many North and South Americans as well as Europeans.

The diversity and international touch of the Florida market makes it quite unique and stimulating, while presenting countless possibilities for the Italian wine scene, requiring careful navigation and consideration. 

While education remains a priority, it is evident that Florida and Italian wines are destined for a happy marriage after all.

Go to episode 1396 and listen to the full interview