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Unfiltered: Riccardo Pasqua

The CEO of Pasqua Wines talks to Douglas Blyde about his entrepreneurial grandfather, drawing inspiration from the fast-paced USA, and the importance of promoting positive mental health…

What is your motto?

“If somebody tells you that you cannot do it, do it twice and take pictures.”


What is your terroir and vintage?

I was born in 1978 in Verona, although my father’s family originally comes from Puglia.


How does wine flow through the family bloodline?  

As a young guy in Southern Italy, my grandfather, Riccardo was called to military service in Verona where he had the intuition to import wines from his home region to sell in a little osteria. This proved super successful – to the point he opened 10 osterias using the same model. Imagine a wine bar which imported and sold wines in the 1920s? -Genius! Riccardo later called up his three brothers for help: it was time to make our own wines so they bought an old deconsecrated convent from which they established the Pasqua winery in 1925. At that point as a successful self-made man he met and fell in love with my grandma, Maria Martini, who was from a very conservative family in Northern Italy. She accepted him despite their very different cultures, origins and the boldness of his character. Today, we are five family members: my father, Umberto, a second generation Pasqua, is Chairman of the Board, my brother, Alessandro is President of Pasqua USA, my cousin, Cecilia runs the UK side of the business and other pivotal countries, and Giovanni Nordera is our Technical Director.


Why should venues in the UK stock and pour your wares? 

Because drinking a glass of our wine is like taking a trip to Italy, and its interpretation of quality and creativity. An immersive experience in the Italian Dolce Vita in the coolest and most glamorous way. Each wine is unique: the narrative behind each label can be intriguing to both the wine connoisseur and the youngest newcomer. But most importantly, because they come from amazing vineyards and are made with passion and innovative thinking and know-how.

Which other culture has motivated you?

My years in the USA inspired me. I lived there for seven years. When I arrived I knew only a few people – nobody knows your background there and it is like starting anew, no matter your age. You can be yourself at 110% and ultimately you are able to express hidden and unexpected talents. It feels like nothing is impossible and dreaming big is not an anomaly but the standard approach – something that I miss terribly in Europe.


What does your role as Pasqua wines’ CEO encompass on a day-to-day basis? 

My duties include nurturing the Pasqua culture, coordinating a team of 100 exceptional talents over three continents, 53% of whom are women. My other duty is to produce wines with a very distinctive DNA – our ranges are utterly unique. 


What are the key wines from the Pasqua parapluie?

What we call internally the “icons” – the wines that defined the future direction of our winery. From Romeo & Juliet to 11 Minutes, Mai Dire Mai and “Hey French – you could have made this yourself but didn’t”.  Each icon is unique, different, and positively disruptive in its category.


What is the most defiant of these? 

Hey French is the most brave and bold wine. A multi-vintage white from the Soave area. The grapes are coming from a unique spot, being a field blend from a single vineyard property located 650 metres above sea level.


Thinking to National Organic Month come September, what are you doing to adhere to a green approach?

For us, the future is the key to making long-term decisions; with this vision we consider sustainability a pillar of our strategy and fundamental to our investments. This is also accelerated by our team which is, on average, very young and therefore very sensitive to this issue. I believe that the younger generation is the driving force behind an ethical and environmentally-friendly organisation. We are growing and embracing sustainability quietly and aim to become a good example for the community. For example, in 2021, we obtained the “Equalitas” certification, one of the most important in Italy and the one that examines sustainability through the lens of agricultural, industrial and financial practices and social responsibility. In addition, we are converting several of our vineyard properties to organic (our target is 20% by 2026). The first one to come to life was the Cascina San Vincenzo which launched last October, and Cecilia Beretta. On the social aspect of sustainability, we launched a mental health coaching programme in 2020, exactly like with professional athletes, which is aimed to maximise the opportunity within the team and being able to grow even stronger. This is something I am very proud of.


What grape don’t you get along with?

Molinara. We have replaced most of it in our vineyards with the more noble varieties of Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella.


Which grape would you like to see more of? 

Oseleta, an intriguing variety which we add to the blend of our age-worthy wines – Amarone, and also Valpolicella. It grows in small, dense bunches and provides lots of colour, tannins and great structure.


How do you connect art, artists and wine, and why is doing so important? 

Art, especially in its more contemporary and immersive expressions, is a very versatile way of communication: you can break cultural, language, gender and age barriers. One can love it more or less deeply; one can understand it more or less deeply but it cannot fail to prompt emotions. exactly like wine. Our connections with artists have evolved in made different ways. It began with Pasqua being a mentor to three Veronese artists, supporting them to complete their projects – that was five years ago. Since then we have stretched the concept and we have collaborated with, given funding and promoted over 20 different talents from across the globe.


Tell us something surprising about yourself? 

I collect, and usually drink, whiskies from all over the world. And I am a petrol-head – I love two wheels, and from time to time I race cars.


What bottle would you reach for if the nuclear button was pressed? 

A difficult, if not an impossible, question to answer. However, if pushed, I would open Mai Dire Mai Amarone 2012.  


What do you do on your days off? 

I try to save my marriage from my constant travelling! Jokes apart, I try to spend as much time as I can with my family and kids. We are savvy skiers. We support AC Milan. And I used to be a good golfer.


Would you prefer to share a treasured bottle with Sophia Loren, Albert Einstein or Pablo Picasso? 

Sophia – in her golden years – had a charm difficult to resist.


If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

Definitely time travel.



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