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The Top Italian Wine Importers in the USA: Bringing Italy's Finest to American Shores

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12/03/2024 Exploring the Pinnacle of Italian Wine Imports: A Deep Dive into Top Importers Shaping the US Market

Italian wines are renowned worldwide for their quality, diversity, and rich history. In the United States on- and off-trade, the demand for Italian wines has been steadily increasing, leading to a growing market for importers specializing in Italian wines. These importers play a crucial role in bringing Italy's finest wines to American consumers, showcasing the diverse terroirs and grape varieties that make Italian wines so unique. This article introduces some of the top Italian wine importers in the USA, their history, and the impact they have on the American wine market. Some, like Dalla Terra, have a unique business proposition.

Dalla Terra Winery Direct

Dalla Terra Winery Direct is a leading importer of Italian wines, specializing in family-owned wineries that produce high-quality, terroir-driven wines. Founded in 1990 by Brian Larky, Dalla Terra has established itself as a trusted source for Italian wines, representing over 40 wineries from various regions across Italy.

Image: The Dalla Terra Business Model; Source: Dalla Terra

Dalla Terra takes a unique approach to importing, focusing on building long-term relationships with their wineries and providing support for their growth and success in the American market. Dalla Terra Winery Direct provides all the services of a traditional national importer transparently and cost-effectively. The company states: “The Winery Direct model is economical and consumer-friendly, putting high-quality wines and spirits on American's tables at affordable prices. This efficient method of representing and marketing, which bypasses the high mark-ups of the traditional national importer in the three-tier system, allows our distributors to buy directly (Winery Direct) from the producers.” Dalla Terra works closely with winegrowers to ensure that their wines maintain their authenticity and quality, making them a favorite among sommeliers.

Kobrand Corporation

Founded in 1944, Kobrand Corporation is one of the oldest and most respected wine importers in the USA, with a strong focus on Italian wines. Kobrand represents a wide range of Italian wineries, from historic estates to innovative newcomers, including the iconic wines of the Frescobaldi family, Michele Chiarlo, and Masi Agricola, among others. The company’s CEO states: “Assembling a portfolio like this does not happen by chance; rather, it is honed for decades with skill and experience. We pride ourselves on sifting through trends to find gems of impeccable quality and value that are relevant to the American wine consumer and bring them to market efficiently and reliably.” 

Kobrand's commitment to quality and excellence has made it a leader in the industry, with a portfolio that showcases the diversity and richness of Italian wine. They work closely with their producers to ensure that their wines meet the highest standards, making them a trusted name among consumers and trade professionals alike. 

Leonardo LoCascio Selections (LLS)

Leonardo LoCascio Selections, a division of Winebow Imports, is dedicated to importing and distributing the finest wines from Italy. Founded by Leonardo LoCascio in 1989, LLS has built a reputation for representing some of Italy's most prestigious wineries, including Allegrini, Arnaldo Caprai, and Mastroberardino. It is, for example, the exclusive U.S. importer of Lini, an artisanal, traditional producer of Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine from Emilia-Romagna. Lini joins a portfolio that represents more than 60 wineries throughout Italy. 

Now integrated with Winebow, LLS has long been known for its meticulous selection process, which focuses on quality, authenticity, and a sense of place. They work closely with their wineries to ensure that their wines reflect the unique terroirs and traditions of Italy, making them a favorite among wine lovers and critics alike. 

Vias Imports

Vias Imports is a boutique importer specializing in Italian wines, with a focus on small, family-owned wineries that produce artisanal wines. Founded in 1983, Vias Imports has built a reputation for representing some of Italy's most exciting and innovative producers, including Produttori del Barbaresco, Castello dei Rampolla, and Tenuta San Leonardo.

Vias Imports takes a hands-on approach to importing, working closely with their wineries to ensure that their wines meet the highest standards of quality and authenticity. They are committed to showcasing the diversity and richness of Italian wine, making them a trusted source for Italian wines in the USA.

Image: Italy is fully covered by Enotec; source: Enotec Imports 

Enotec Imports

Since 1985, Enotec Imports has been dedicated to helping America live deliciously by specializing in finding family-owned and estate-driven wineries from across the Italian peninsula and bringing them to the US. Their focus has always been on wines of character and distinction, delicious wines possessing classic balance and structure, usually made by families tending their vineyards for generations, and who are focused on local indigenous varieties. Enotec typically works with wineries that use traditional winemaking techniques, though they are open to modern processes if they enhance the wine's flavor. 

Enotec offers three ways to work with their distribution partners: stateside inventory in NJ, consolidated NJ DI orders, and ex-cellars from Italy, picked up at the winery. They prioritize quality by using temperature-controlled shipping methods to ensure that the wines arrive in the best possible condition. 

Enotec's portfolio includes 36 brands from various regions in Italy, each representing the best of their respective terroirs and winemaking traditions. Some of the notable brands in their portfolio include Antica Fratta from Lombardy, Caldaro from Alto Adige, Casalfarneto from Marche, Dei from Toscana, and many more. 

Empson USA

Empson USA is a family-owned importer and distributor of fine wines from Italy, Spain, Chile, New Zealand, and the USA. Founded in 1991 by Neil and Maria Empson, Empson USA has built a reputation for representing some of the finest wineries in Italy, including Gaja, Renato Ratti, and Paolo Scavino. 

Empson USA is known for its commitment to quality and authenticity, working closely with its wineries to ensure that its wines reflect the unique terroirs and traditions of Italy. They are dedicated to promoting Italian wines in the USA, making them a favorite among consumers and trade professionals alike.

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Enotria Wine Imports

Enotria Wine Imports is an importer and distributor of Italian wines in the United States. Based in Manhattan, Enotria brings a variety of single-family-owned estates to the on-premise restaurant industry as well as off-premise stores and boutique wine shops. They are distributed in several states in the American market. 

Enotria takes a unique approach to importing, focusing on family-owned wineries that make wines reflecting their homes. They believe in commitment, honesty, and hard work, and aim to share their enthusiasm for genuine histories and stories of artisanal Italian wineries with their customers. Enotria's portfolio includes wines produced by families for generations, as well as newer producers, all reflecting the Enotria family's dedication to quality and authenticity. 

These top Italian wine importers in the USA play a crucial role in bringing Italy's finest wines to the American on- and off-trade. Their commitment to quality, authenticity, and innovation has helped to elevate the status of Italian wines in the USA, making them staple sommeliers in the US. For a trade professional, these importers are sure to have something to satisfy your palate and expand your knowledge of Italian wines.

Header Image: Empson USA

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