Came for the fabric, stayed for the wine.
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For starters, you are probably wondering how wine has anything to do with an apparel brand. Our dear friend Bernardo is the common thread that weaves this whole story together.
Let’s set the scene. Nestled in the Tuscan hills of Italy, outside of Florence, resides the beautiful Castello di Poppiano, one of the oldest and finest independent wineries in Italy. This unique estate has been in the Guicciardini family for hundreds, and we mean hundreds of years. This lengthy line of master winemakers has passed their craft from generation to generation. The estate remains family owned and operated to this day.
Bernardo’s mother’s side, the Guicciardini family, began making wine in the Poppiano region of Italy in 1199. Although the world of winemaking was quite different at that time, one thing has remained the same, the grapes have always been grown and processed on the estate.
On the other hand, Bernardo’s father’s side has been in the textile industry for more than 100 years. They are known for blending synthetic fibers with wool to create functional, sustainable fabrics that enable people to enjoy the outdoors in comfort, without sacrificing performance. Are the dots beginning to connect? This is how the relationship with KÜHL® initially began.
(They say you can’t choose your family but … jealousy courses through veins).
A little background history for you.
Italian wine is synonymous with Italian culture and what truly sets it apart is the focus on regional reputation and craft. It is said that the Italians regional pride in wine far outweighs the national pride in wine. Therefore, you will find much more nuance across the country with each region taking the utmost delight in the stories they create through their grapes.
Chianti is one of the most notable Italian wines worldwide. Chianti is the story of the sangiovese grape. This unique grape only thrives in the Tuscan region and is known as the king of Tuscan agriculture. Castello di Poppiano wines are the historical record of the landscape, the fruit, and the people. The property faces southwest and lies approximately 1000 ft above sea level, which provides the perfect sun exposure and temperatures for growing the famous sangiovese grape. The Guicciardini family has built a community of workers who are passionate about bringing the story of easy drinking, enjoyable wines into the homes of thousands each year. When you say cheers with a glass of this wine, you are toasting to the generations of passionate makers.
So where did this KÜHL® Guicciardini collaboration come from?
Funny enough, we met Bernardo at the Outdoor Retailer show in the late 90’s. Bernardo went to see what was happening at the KÜHL booth. Initially, a bit skeptical and protective of having someone new looking at the latest product line, Bernardo quickly explained his business was built around blending natural and synthetic fibers. After a great meal and a few glasses of wine, an instant friendship grew and KÜHL has used Bernardo as the source of these premium fabrics ever since.
Through the years, this instant bond has been strengthened by the shared values of independence. Both businesses are lead in alignment with their passion for simply creating the best of the best. They set realistic goals for growth, keep their companies reasonably sized and make decisions to ensure their companies will stand on their own for many years to come. Bernardo said it best, “Sustaining a family business for centuries requires a constant respect of tradition while keeping up with modern tastes and trends. You must follow your own path and find the balance between consistency and authenticity.”
This wine is just another way to celebrate the beauty of Mountain Culture®. Whether you have gone for a dirt bike tour in the Tuscan hills, a hike amongst the desert buttes of the American southwest or a run down some of the most spectacular peaks in Utah or Italy, this perfect easy drinking wine combines complexity, fresh fruity flavors, and a bit of spice to round out a day of adventure.
Whether you are making incredibly versatile sportswear for a modern mountain lifestyle or a delightful wine to share with family and friends, these values have successfully led both companies to where they are today. After many years of collaboration on the fabrics side, it just felt right to partner on a new venture with wine.
Written by Sarah Scott and Cat Mullin.
Photos courtesy of the Guicciardini family and Mak Crist.