Gianpaolo Girardi Propostavini

#16 Interview with Gianpaolo Girardi, Trento

“When you taste a wine, just saying “I like it or I don’t like it” is very simplistic. On the other hand, when we try to dig into what is behind the taste, the history, the work, the people behind this wine, tasting then takes on a whole new meaning. “

Meeting people inspires, arouses our curiosity and makes us grow. I had the privilege of having Gianpaolo Girardi as a guide to discover his region, Trentino and above all to discuss the philanthropic work of a lifetime: the preservation and development of the native grape varieties of this region.

It’s 8:30 am, we meet at the Propostavini warehouse located in Trento, the Italian wine distribution company that Gianpaolo created in 1984. A few exchanges with the team, a coffee and I’m off to visit for the first time the emblematic properties of the region. His build and tall stature give him a somewhat intimidating presence. His hands are large, muscular and his laugh exudes humanity and kindness. Although we had known each other for years, we had never had a moment alone. It will be ¾ quarter in the car, to be exact, with one hand on the wheel and a glance at the winding road on the side of the mountains between two passioned sentences. He explains to me his Vini dell’Angelo project and the convictions that have guided it for almost 40 years. He has the finesse to carefully formulate his sentences in precise, clear and spaced-out Italian so that I don’t lose track. A track not easy to keep because my mind was also absorbed on the road and the traffic. Gianpaolo had almost ignored it, he was so focused on our conversation.

10 am, we have just finished our first visit. I felt the desire and the need to write down his journey. Spontaneously, I ask him if he would agree to give me an interview for Cépages Magazine. A privilege charged with passion that I am delighted to share with you.

Can you tell us about the Trentino Alto Adige region?

Trentino is a province located in the very north of Italy on the borders of the Alps and the Dolomites. The attachment of the region to Italy is recent and the Austro-Hungarian influence here is strong. We are Italian but our cultural heritage is Austrian moreover in Bolzano, German is the first language! These characteristics linked to the history, the terroir, the climate and the geology have shaped the wine-growing history of the whole region with sometimes drifts.

Why the fame of Trentino Alto Adige wines is difficult internationally?

For historical reasons, the region has many production areas and each wine-growing area has its particularities related to geology, altitude or exposure. Therefore, presenting an image of Trentino unequivocally in the world, as in Burgundy for example, is impossible.

Today, Trentino seeks to defend a strong image in the world market. There are answers but the road is long. It does not depend on a journalist, a guide or a producer but on the emulation of winegrowers to speak with a single voice in the world. There are successes with the creation of the Trento DOC appellation. Area of ​​production of sparkling wines made according to the classic method which has managed to compete with Franciacorta, the only other appellation in Italy important for the production of sparkling wines.

What makes Trentino an amazing wine region?

It is a land blessed by the Gods. In the sense that there are few areas in Italy where the vine grows so well with such high quality. With global warming, our luck is to have vines of 800 to 1000 meters and this should not be underestimated. The diversity of Trentino is unique.

The most productive region is the Val Lagarina. To the north there is the Adige Valley and all around there are smaller areas: Camporo Italiano, known for the production of Terolgedo, Le Colline Avisane, famous for the production of the native white grape variety Nosiola. And in an even more marginal way, there is the Val dei Laghi north of Trento which benefits from a very specific climate with the influence of Lake Garda or even the Valsugana and the Valle di Non, famous for its apples .

We produce wine with reasonable yields, but the introduction of international grape varieties has been a hindrance to recognition of the region on the European market. I believe in our historic indigenous varietals and we need to bring that identity to restaurant tables in Europe.

Can you tell us about your Vini dell’Angelo project?

The two most planted grape varieties from Sicily to Alto Adige in the 90s were Pinot Grigio and Merlot. In 2021, more than 70% of the production of white and red wines from Trentino comes from just three grape varieties: Pinot Grigio, Müller Thurgau and Chardonnay. Grape varieties that have no connection with the history of the region! This is why, in the 1980s, I made the ethical choice, far from commercial considerations, to defend our regional grape varieties with the Vini dell’Angelo program.

What is the Vini dell’Angelo project?

As early as 1988, I began to create a collection of massales selections of native grape varieties. We started by identifying the grape varieties in the archives and listing those that were still in existence. It was a huge work of memory where we collected people’s testimonies on their cultivation practices and their observations.

The first step was to preserve this heritage of cultural biodiversity. Secondly, we looked for partner vinegrowers to replant and cultivate these forgotten grape varieties. At first, I took myself several doors because no one wanted to hear about these grape varieties! To convince them, I undertook to buy all the production no matter what and to market the bottles. 40 years later, these vinegrowers are very happy to have identity wines from the Trentino region because they defend a terroir and they have a story to tell. It was a long-term job to promote them.

What is your assessment 30 years later?

The priority at the start was to safeguard all these grape varieties. Today, there is no problem from a viticulture point of view because these are grape varieties that have been cultivated for hundreds of years. On the other hand, the challenge is to make a good quality wine that the market understands and accepts.

We have restaurants and partners who put a “Vini dell’Angelo” selection on their wine list. It is a way for them to talk about the region’s identity wines. Consumers are fond of these wines or other typical products of a region. Talking about a Pinot Noir or a Cabernet Sauvignon here, does not make sense when you think about it!

Why the angel?

The angel is the one who helps save a cause. My dear friend who was a painter had given me a painting where there was an angel that he had painted thinking of me. We used it for the logo.

Can you tell us about some grape varieties?

The Teroldego is a cousin of the Lagrein. A wine of great strength and structure or Marzemino, another red variety from Vallagarina. These indigenous grape varieties reflect the diversity and richness of our region. I could also mention La Nosiola, a white grape variety which makes it possible to produce several types of wine: still, sparkling, straw, sweet and the Vino Santo where the grapes are dried on shelves until Easter. For sparkling, I would mention the Lagarino Bianco which has incredible acidity.

Vini dell'Angelo

How do these indigenous grape varieties fit into the appellation system?

As a reminder, for more than 20 years the wines of Angelo Gaja were classified as table wine. The appellations are a political act to guarantee a certain quality for export but the appellations do not determine the quality of the wine. The name of the grape variety can be the equivalent of a brand name such as “Negrara” followed by the appellation Vino da Tavola, IGT or DOC.

What are Propostavini’s next challenges?

We must continue to defend the local products of our region and to make them known. This goes through the press, tastings, fairs, the sales force… We defend the link that unites the product to its terroir (the soil, the culture, the philosophy, etc.) and that regardless of the winemaker. These are authentic and unique expressions of each region that must be appreciated and put back into their environment without making comparisons with other wine regions.

We must succeed in selling what makes us unique.

What are you the most proud of?

We went against the tide for 20 years and today the market has changed. People understand the cultural value of local products and we have, at our level, contributed to this. My greatest pride is to have believed very early in the potential of these wines and to have persevered despite difficult years.

How have you kept this energy for all these years?

I’m a sixty-eighter who believes in dreams. This personal conviction, I nourished it with a philanthropic, human and personal will far removed from commercial considerations. It was obvious to me that you had to keep the energy to achieve this.

What are the messages of wisdom that you like to pass on?

When you taste a wine, if you limit yourself to saying “I like” or “I don’t like”, it’s simplistic. On the other hand, when we try to dig into what is behind the taste, the history, the work, the people behind this wine, tasting takes on another meaning. I recommend everyone to dig behind whatever appeals to them. To go and understand, to be interested, to cultivate one’s curiosity to give even more soul power to this experience.

Stream of consciousness

Books: Fernando Pessoa and Joseph Roth
Movie: Buena Vista Social Club moves me every time.
Music: Baroque
Vintage: 1984 in Trentino
Varietal: Pauline because it is not yet in the collection
A memorable bottle: to appreciate a wine, you need good company. The two go together even more when a bottle surprises you. The last, Heida, a Swiss wine that transported me.
A place: Italian cities by the sea or in the mountains

To follow Gianpaolo Girardi

The Propostavini website and the Vini dell’Angelo project

You can contact me at marie@cepagescommunication for any idea or just to chat, I love it! You will find me on Instagram @cepagescommunication or my Linkedin page

All of these texts and photos are the fruit of personal, passionate, committed and long-term work. Thank you in advance for campaigning for respect for artistic creation online. If you like my work and inspire you with projects, contact me at Any reproduction or plagiarism is prohibited.