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A new world of experiences for old-world wines: Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona

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The Ciacci winery may still age their wine in barrels in a historic cellar, but above ground, the business is embracing leading-edge technology to thrive through uncertain times.

For three generations, the Bianchini family has been creating exceptional wines on their idyllic 5,000-acre estate of rolling hills and lush forests in Montalcino, Tuscany. Following the passing of their father, Giuseppe, in February 2004, Paolo and Lucia Bianchini have run the winery, with Alex and Ester, Paolo’s children, also heavily involved in the day-to-day operations.

The Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona estate has two wine cellars. The first is an historical wine cellar, dedicated to the long ageing of the most prestigious wines. This is located in the basement of the 17th century Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona ‘Palazzo’. The second is a new wine cellar located near the village of Castelnuovo dell’Abate. The property includes fermentation, aging, refinement and storage facilities, and also acts as the estate headquarters.

The winery’s products have won awards and ratings from respected industry outlets such as Decanter and Wine Spectator.

The challenge
For the Bianchini family it’s been a balancing act to maintain the traditions of a historic estate while staying one step ahead of the latest developments in the world of wine. The recent COVID-19 pandemic put that ability to adapt to the test. With trade shows postponed and international travel impossible, the pandemic changed everything for small wine producers. 

In a normal year, the release of a new vintage would be accompanied by international trips and face-to-face meetings with distributors and critics, as well as cellar tours at the estate. This year, facing an impending lockdown, Gabriele Gorelli, consultant and wine producer, and the rest of the Ciacci team had to develop a new way to share their latest vintage with wine-lovers across the world and grow their business through the crisis. The Ciacci winery responded by turning to Microsoft Teams. The result was a perfect balance of tradition and technology.

Historic cellar.

Harnessing technology to find the solution 
Thanks to a pre-existing investment in Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams, Ciacci was able to act fast and develop a completely new way to share their wine with distributors, critics, and wine-lovers from around the world. Virtual wine tastings, held via Microsoft Teams, have changed how the winery does business, saving time, travel costs, and creating new and stronger connections with customers.

Using the communication hub in Microsoft 365, Ciacci employees moved quickly to replace in-person gatherings with virtual wine tastings using Teams meetings. The Bianchini family members also used Teams to work together and connect with partners and suppliers, to keep their business thriving.

Ciacci is also saving time and costs associated with travel by using Teams. A typical international sales trip would take at least a week, but with Teams, Ciacci simply ships its wine to the distributor and sets up a two-hour meeting in Teams to discuss it.  

A new world of possibility 
Although everyone is eagerly awaiting a return to normalcy in Italy, Ciacci is reimagining the future of its business. The ability to connect virtually with wine lovers across the world has opened up a wealth of possibilities to expand its customer base. Ciacci is already thinking about using virtual tours to invite fans from around the globe into the rarified world of the traditional Italian wine cellar.

Testing room.

The winery further plans on using Teams to create a direct line to customers, instead of relying so heavily on selling to distributors; something the winery is well-placed to do, thanks to its e-commerce site and the interactive potential of Teams.   

Conclusion: The Ciacci winery may still age their wine in barrels in a historic cellar, but above ground, the business is embracing leading-edge technology to thrive through uncertain times. A previous investment in Microsoft 365, and Teams in particular, has meant this family-run business is able to adapt to a new reality. The result, a revolution in digital wine promotion and a new vision for the future.

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