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What’s in a Name? Bulgari Family Enters Wine Business

Jerome Favre | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Recognized across the world, the Bulgari name is one of the most iconic luxury brands ever created, known for its watches, handbags, jewelry and fragrances.

But starting this week, sharp-eyed wine consumers might notice the name in an unexpected place, a wine label, as the Bulgari family slowly enters the wine business.

Paolo Bulgari, the former chairman of the Bulgari Group, and his son Giovanni have started PoderNuovo, a winery named after the family’s estate in southern Tuscany and where the family will make its wine.

After decades of building up the Bulgari name, when it comes to the wine venture, the family is now playing their famous moniker down.

“Our first battle is not to be known as the Bulgari wine,” Giovanni Bulgari, the chief executive of PoderNuovo, told the New York Times. “The real challenge is to show that we can produce good wine very well.”

In fact, the Bulgaris are limited in how they use their name in terms of any post-Bulgari Group business ventures, the result of restrictions placed on the name after the sale of Bulgari to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in March 2011. The family is also taking their entry into the wine business slowly, with three wines making their debut at the Vinitaly, the international wine trade fair held in Verona, Italy, this week.

While the Bulgari brand is associated with high-priced luxury, the PoderNuovo label will sell for between $16 and $24. The winery expects to produce 60,000 bottles in the beginning and hopes to double its output down the road.

Despite his previous success in navigating the luxury goods business, Paolo Bulgari tells the New York Times he is cautious yet confident in his new undertaking.

“It’s a very crowded marketplace, and it’s a difficult moment to sell anything from wine to cars. The competition is so tough,” he told the Times. “Now we’re going to have to get out there to sell.”

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com. Follow Tom Rotunno on Twitter @tomrotunno.

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