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144. Reconciling interests to make big business

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Coop Name: GRUPPO MEZZACORONA N° of Employees: 410
City: Mezzocorona N° of Members: 1500
Country: Italy Year of formation: 1970
Website: http://www.gruppomezzacorona.it/
About this coop:

Gruppo Mezzacorona arose from the merger of the Cantina Sociale (founded in 1904) and the Lega fra Viticoltori (founded in 1911) in 1970, the first merger of two cooperatives in Italy. The group now manages 2800 hectares of vineyard in the Italian region Trentino Alto Adige and an additional 1000 hectares in Sicily. Mezzacorona operates along the entire supply chain, from the fields all the way to the individual consumer, adopting an integrated production method that stresses environmental protection and sustainability. Its wines are distributed in over 60 countries around the world and generated a revenue of over 149 million Euros in 2011.

The wine trellises fill the fertile valley floor of Rotaliana. It is often described as the most beautiful wine garden in Europe.

Striking for its modernity in this region of Trentino, northern Italy, rich with Roman ruins and medieval buildings, is a steel-enmeshed three story office block with a low-lying grass roofed tasting building. This is the home to the Mezzacorona cooperative.

What began with 20 grape grower members has since expanded to 1600 growers. Demonstrating the dominance of the cooperative model in the region, Mezzacorona has grown to be the single largest producer of Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay in Italy.

“The value added created by Mezzacorona is €40 million,” says Fabio Rizzoli, Chief Executive Officer of Mezzacorona. “It’s a lot of wealth but it is well distributed. We do not hold profit in disdain, it is one of our principle objectives, however, it is not the only one.”

“I was born on the countryside and I know that when you plant a vine you have to take care of it and wait at least 5-6 years before seeing results. Long-term projects are ultimately the most ethical, and they yield lasting and satisfactory results and for all stakeholders.”

“Today’s managers are very aggressive and want to see results immediately, but this is not sustainable and creates imbalances like the ones we’ve seen provoke the financial crisis,” he says.

In wine production terms, Mezzacorona is big business. It mass produces wine which it sells into global markets.

“To run a business it takes balance and attention to the needs of all stakeholders,” explains Rizzoli. “I have always aimed to reconcile the interests of the company with those of the worker, the community, the environment, the consumer and the producer, and never engaged in rampant profit seeking.”

Now, the traditional pergola methods of growing vines are now mixed with the modern espaliered method which allows for mechanised production at Mezzacorona.

Its production, like its architecture, and indeed its business, is a mixture of the new and the old.

This story is an IYC Yearbook feature: http://www.2012.coop/en/get-involved/iyc-yearbook-building-better-world

Author of this story
Kate Askew
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