James W. Mariani
James Mariani is family proprietor and co-CEO of Banfi Vintners, America's leading wine importer, and the award winning Castello Banfi Vineyard Estate in Montalcino, Tuscany.
The elder son of Banfi President Emeritus Harry F. Mariani, James and his cousin Cristina Mariani-May represent the third generation of family leadership in the company founded by their grandfather, John F. Mariani, Sr. in 1919. The 1978 founding and subsequent development of Castello Banfi is perhaps the family's most ambitious endeavor.
James Mariani officially joined the family business in 1991, though he earlier interned at the company's vineyard estates, literally learning the business from the ground up. Over the summers of 1982 and 1983, he served as part of a small team that planted the firm's Chardonnay vineyard at Old Brookville. Four years later, he worked with the vineyard staff at Castello Banfi for the 1987 harvest. He has traveled extensively across the U.S. and Canada, conducting seminars, university lectures, and wine maker dinners. Mr. Mariani is considered an unofficial ambassador for imported wines, joining other producers and importers on numerous industry panels and tastings.
Assuming many of his father's responsibilities in sales and marketing over the past two years, Mr. Mariani has restructured both departments to facilitate the company's efforts in achieving sales objectives and strategic goals in brand building. An advocate of one-on-one salesmanship, he is frequently on the road to meet with the firm's 180 distributors across North America.
In assessing the market of the 21st century, Mr. Mariani, who holds a BA from Colgate University and an MBA from the Cornell University's Johnson School of Business, speculates that current American interest in varietal wines will continue to grow while the market embraces offerings from many different wine producing nations. "As Americans become more and more comfortable with wine," he said, "they will better understand how the specific appellation of a wine imparts particular flavors and style to a given grape variety."
Photo Courtesy of Culinary Institute of America