Handsome? Check. Married to a celebrity? Check. Part of a noble Italian family? Check. Has his own prosecco company? Check, check, check. While you may be more familiar with his wife, Jessica Chastain, Gian Luca Passi De Preposulo is a name you’ll want to know, and remember. If not for who he’s married to, then definitely for the delicious (and very reasonably priced) FIOL Prosecco that retails for just $16.30 at the LCBO. This light and refreshing prosecco features aromas of pear, citrus and green apple with notes of white flowers and almond. As one of our personal go-to prosecco brands here at Edit Seven, we couldn’t be more thrilled to have the chance to learn more about Gian Luca Passi De Preposulo and his company, FIOL Prosecco.
Business Name: FIOL Prosecco
Name & Title: Gian Luca Passi De Preposulo, Co-Founder
Location: New York, Los Angeles, Milan
Edit Seven: Tell us about your brand, what do you do?
Gian Luca Passi De Preposulo: FIOL is an extra dry prosecco born in 2011 from the passion of three friends, Pietro and Giovanni Ciani Bassetti and myself. We are a light to medium bodied prosecco with balanced acidity, which pairs perfectly with a wide range of cuisines across the globe. We realized early on that there is a lack of brand reference in the prosecco market and saw the opportunity to create a premium, recognizable brand. FIOL is the way to fill that gap and to create the Belvedere or Grey Goose of the prosecco world. We believe customers need to be educated about what they are drinking and that what they are being served is more than just ‘a prosecco’.
E7: How did you start your business? What inspired you to start?
GLPDP: Prosecco has been the most successful wine in the last decade in terms of growth in popularity.
Prior to 2008, most often champagne was the wine of choice for grand celebrations and festive events, while prosecco was seen as ‘the poor cousin’. However, when the recession began, people started looking at alternatives to champagne and discovered the great taste of prosecco; due the price point, it became a product that could be consumed more regularly and not reserved for special occasions. This cultural shift is what introduced bubbles into everyday life.
We aspired to create a brand that for years to come would be positioned as the go-to premium prosecco for the everyday celebration and keeping the price point affordable meant it was accessible for everyone.
The name FIOL was also a tribute to the origins of the company. The word refers to the person in your group of friends who inspires you the most, or who has that ‘cool’ factor or ‘edge’ in old venetian dialect. This is somebody who really knows how to appreciate life and manages to savour it at every opportunity.
E7: Why do you love what you do?
GLPDP: My everyday drive comes from the passion my parents passed on to me and the feedback I get from our customers. I was lucky to be born in a place like Italy and to share a dream with such dear friends. We keep ourselves motivated and work hard to improve FIOL constantly.
E7: What makes your business special?
GLPDP: FIOL is special because this brand was created with friends and family behind it. The bond between Pietro, Giovanni and I started when we played rugby at a young age and which we continued to play for ten years together, in the same club and for the national team.
Treviso is the city where we all grew up. We wanted to leverage our family’s business of wine making and our connection to the vineyards, but also wanted to go out on our own. That’s when and why we created FIOL, it connected us back to our land and to our DNA.
E7: What makes your product special?
GLPDP: With the flavour profile of pear, citrus and green apple and notes of wisteria flower, acacia and mature crab apple, FIOL is served nicely in a single glass on its own but is also intended for mixology. This to me is a key element of FIOL, as this is what has helped us establish FIOL from other prosecco brands in the market. Investing in mixology has become a priority as it allows us to highlight FIOL’s versatility and pivotal role in the makeup of popular cocktails i.e. the Aperol Spritz.
E7: What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from running your business?
GLPDP: Every day we are faced with challenges and obstacles, and it’s up to us to decide whether we face them or avoid them. The quicker you understand that being an entrepreneur is an ongoing process of problem-solving, the quicker your company will grow and your learning curve will keep expanding versus the competitors.
E7: What has it been like transitioning from working on a fashion brand to an alcohol brand?
GLPDP: To me, the two go hand-in-hand in the sense where there is fashion, there is alcohol and vice versa. I am proud to still be doing both on a daily basis, and they co-exist wonderfully.
E7: What are some of the pros and cons of working with two of your closest friends as the co-founders of your company?
GLPDP:Being in business with friends and family can be both rewarding and tough at times. Growing up together, we’ve come to know each other really well; even if we don’t live in the same country – I live the U.S., Giovanni in Italy and Pietro in China – many times we understand each other’s place and perspective, but others we just want to tackle each other like old times on the rugby field.
E7: What is your #1 piece of advice to keep in mind when starting your own business?
GLPDP: My number one piece of advice is to own the subject you are creating within, and be eager and motivated to keep improving yourself and your product at any costs.
E7: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting your business?
GLPDP: The journey of discovery and improving is the best one. It’s important to have mentors along the way but it’s even more important to be ready to listen and be humble to learn.
E7: What is a challenge you’d tell future entrepreneurs in the prosecco business to prepare for?
GLPDP: The beverages industry is a very difficult market to penetrate, and most of the time it takes years and a lot of money to get your company off the ground. Be patient and don’t give up.
E7: How do you stay organized, balanced and motivated?
GLPDP: As a business entrepreneur, you make mistakes but learning from them is how you move forward. As I said, mentors are important, and I look up to and learn from successful entrepreneurs in the business in order to stay on top and motivated.
E7: Who are some of your mentors/role models?
GLPDP: I began working at Armani after graduating University in Milan and had the opportunity to work very closely with Roberta Armani. I consider her one of my mentors – learning about the importance of not just having good ideas, but how to execute ideas to make your dreams come true. I was very lucky at 21 years old to have been given an opportunity within the company to start travelling and this helped me create exceptional connections around the world. These experiences have shaped me to this day.
E7: Do you have a daily or regular ritual you practice that you love?
GLPDP: Every day is different for me!
E7: Where do you go or what do you do to look for inspiration?
GLPDP: I often turn to books. I am constantly reading books from authors across multiple subjects, and usually at the same time. Keeps my mind active and inspired.
E7: Who is the FIOL prosecco customer and where can your products be purchased in Canada?
GLPDP: FIOL is meant to be enjoyed by everyone and the ways in which you can try it is limitless when incorporating mixology. We are available across Canada in approximately 600 stores at the LCBO in Ontario, SAQ in Quebec, Liquor Mart in Manitoba and the Liquor Store in Newfoundland.
We also love to highlight that we are available in some of Canada’s more amazing restaurants, including Toronto’s Piano Piano, Kasa Moto and The Chase just to name a few, where we are incorporated across their cocktail menus.
(Story by Editor-in-Chief, Gracie Carroll)