Dr. John F. Mariani, family proprietor of US wine importer Banfi Vintners and the Castello Banfi vineyard estate in Montalcino, Tuscany, has been recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award of Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
The award, part of the publication's Annual Wine Star Awards recognizing excellence in the wine and spirits industry, will appear in the December 15 issue of Wine Enthusiast and be presented to Dr. Mariani at a gala dinner and awards ceremony at the New York Public Library on Monday, January 28, 2008.
Dr. Mariani, along with his brother Harry, represents the second generation of family management at Banfi, which was founded by their father in 1919 and is now in the hands of John's daughter Cristina and Harry's son James, who share the title of co-CEO.
Wine Enthusiast noted Dr. Mariani's influential role in the industry, from expanding Banfi's Italian import portfolio to Germany Switzerland and France starting in the mid-1950s, becoming America's leading Bordeaux and Burgundy négociant by the 1960s, introducing the immediately and immensely popular Riunite Lambrusco which has topped the imported wine category over the past four decades, working with the family leadership of Chile's Concha y Toro since 1988 to catapult that brand to its own leadership and prestige position, and founding the Castello Banfi vineyard estate in Tuscany, Italy's most honored estate and the inspiration for a renaissance in Tuscan winemaking.
Castello Banfi is internationally acclaimed for its clonal research to improve upon the region’s historical Brunello di Montalcino, and making premier quality wines that are low in sulfites and histamines. It was the first winery in the world to be awarded international recognition for exceptional environmental, ethical and social responsibility (ISO 14001 and SA8000) as well as an international leader in customer satisfaction (ISO 9001:2000).
Castello Banfi has become a beacon for regional hospitality, with a full service enoteca, glass museum, balsamic cellars, winery tours, informal Taverna serving traditional local cuisine, Michelin star-rated Castello Banfi – Il Ristorante for fine dining, and the recently opened Castello Banfi – Il Borgo luxury rooms and suites.
Banfi's success has enabled the company to play a broad philanthropic role through the Banfi Vintners Foundation. The Foundation provided seed money to help Catholic Relief Services build a technical school and an orphanage as well as an 800-unit housing project in Potenza, Italy, where thousands were left homeless after a devastating earthquake in the early 1980s. It also generously endows select charities and universities around the world, and sponsors annual scholastic tours to study the food and wine culture of Italy.
Banfi remains a private concern focused on the production and import of fine wine. Earlier this year, Dr. Mariani was conferred the degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa at the 2007 graduation ceremonies for the National University of Ireland's Shannon College of Hotel Management. He also received a Doctorate in Business Administration, Honoris Causa, from the Rhode Island based Johnson & Wales University in 1985. He was knighted Cavaliere della Repubblica by the president of Italy in 1982; served as a trustee-fellow and presidential counselor of Cornell University, and served on the Dean's Advisory Councils of Cornell's Johnson Business School and Cornell’s Hotel School. In 1987 he was awarded the Johnson School's Entrepreneur of the Year following Sanford Weill of CitiGroup and Christopher Hemmeter, a prolific developer of some of Hawaii's most notable hotels and resorts. In 2001 Dr. Mariani received the National Education and Leadership Award from the Sons of Italy in America.
"John Mariani's vision and the implementation of it have helped to raise the quality of the world’s wines," said Wine Enthusiast publisher Adam M. Strum, "and to bring them into American homes and restaurants."
Founded in 1988, Wine Enthusiast Magazine's mission is to educate and entertain readers about wine and the wine lifestyle in an accessible and user-friendly way. Wine Enthusiast Magazine has grown to become one of the world’s most respected and quoted publications in the field of wine and spirits.
The magazine is an important source of ratings and reviews of both wines and spirits currently available in the marketplace, vital to both consumers and to the trade. With a readership of 500,000 per issue, Wine Enthusiast Magazine is available in fine wine shops, tasting rooms and major bookstores nationwide. In addition, Wine Enthusiast Magazine develops signature events for both consumers and the trade