Italian government, major wine consortia partner with trade group AEPI for “best wine shop professional” competition. Includes “professional abroad” category.

Above: Dal Zovo, a legacy wine shop in Verona (image via the Dal Zovo website).

In America, there are a number of channels and platforms where aspiring sommeliers and wine shop professionals can access educational resources. But our country lacks educational programs expressly created for and focused solely on wine shop professionals.

In 2017, members of the Italian association of wine shops, Vinarius, launched the national Association of Italian Wine Shop Professionals, known as AEPI (Associazione Enotecari Professionisti Italiani), an organization that fosters education and professional standards for people who own wine shops and work in wine retail.

Last week, the group announced that it has partnered with the Italian agriculture ministry and some of Italy’s leading appellation consortia to create a competition and series of awards for wine shop professionals: the Miglior Enotecario d’Italia awards, including a “best Italian wine shop professional” category.

The goal is “to bolster personal and collective growth,” said AEPI president Francesco Bonfio in a statement issued last week (disclosure: Francesco is a good friend of mine).

The competition is open to professionals, including owners and employees, who work in wine shops, wine bars, restaurants, and all public-facing services that offer retail wine sales (in Italy, where wine professionals scratch their heads at the thought of our anachronistic and repressive “three-tier system,” retail sales have always been allowed at “on premise” venues).

The competition also includes an award for “best Italian wine shop professional abroad.” The category is open to Italians working beyond the country’s borders, said Francesco in a WhatsApp message yesterday.

The following consortia are underwriters of the competition and others are expected to join: Vini Alto Adige, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Tutela Vini Colli Euganei, Vini Cirò, Tutela Vini Valpolicella, Vini del Trentino, IGT Toscana, DOC delle Venezie, Enoteca Regionale del Barolo, Vino Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, and the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne. Semi-finalists will be invited to those appellations for hands-on educational programs created especially for those who work in retail wine sales.

Visit the Miglior Enotecario d’Italia website here. The portal is now open for applications through the end of February.

2 thoughts on “Italian government, major wine consortia partner with trade group AEPI for “best wine shop professional” competition. Includes “professional abroad” category.

  1. I was just at A. Littering, Inc., an Italian Deli in Washington DC. Their wine proprietor, Max Evans, has an outstanding selection, better than any Italian selection I’ve seen in LA. Max had Bologna regional wines that I’ve never seen on the west coast. Distribution is not equal throughout the US. How though could a store be rated as best or at a certain level?

    • Tony, Francesco had some issues posting a comment and he asked me to share this. Thanks to both for being here. Jeremy

      Mr. Schaffer,
      thanks for your contribution.
      I would like to clarify that the competition does not aim to elect the best wine shop or the best wine bar but the professional who works in the establishment and who, with his competence, preparation, knowledge and ability to interact with the consumer customer to provide the best possible service.
      On your note I agree, the rankings of the best wine shop cannot take into account the geographical differences and the different operating conditions. In Montalcino wine shop will obviously be unbalanced in the assortment that will have a focus on the great wines of the territory as well as in Reims wine shop will inevitably have a large selection of champagne but will not be able to guarantee an adequate presence of Barolo. Francesco Bonfio

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