2018’s Drinks Business Awards: profiling the recipients

Woman of the Year

Cristina Mariani-May

 Our winner this year is someone who exudes energy in such quantities, it’s only matched by Olympian athletes or children fired up on fizzy drinks. An obsessive runner, she says she could go on forever like Forest Gump, but has also become a serious swimmer, something she took up following a hamstring injury during a marathon. Indeed, she now sets her alarm for 5am to finish a punishing workout in the pool before breakfast – then followed by a full day’s work.

Such a sporting routine is only possible when she’s not travelling, which takes up a large part of her time, as she like to visit every market where her family’s wine brand is served.

This year, she was named president and CEO of New York-based fine wine importer Banfi Vintners; a role she has shared with her cousin James Mariani since 2007.

Splitting her time between Italy and the US, she also looks after Castello Banfi, the family’s 7,000-acre estate in Brunello di Montalcino, and says that she’s happiest with her three children at her home in Tuscany.

A “pursuit of excellence” serves as a personal mantra for our recipient, who has invested heavily in pioneering research into Sangiovese clones and fermentation techniques – even developing hybrid tanks, now patented, but licensed for use elsewhere.

But, aside from her drive, and her many achievements, it is the warm, welcoming manner of our recipient that has earned her such high regard wherever she goes.

And she is a particularly worthy recipient this year, because, not only does she celebrate taking the helm at the family’s US operation, but also the 40th anniversary since Castello Banfi was born, which is, incidentally, 99 years since the Banfi family began in the wine business.

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