/Fulvio Bressan, The Man Behind the Wine

Fulvio Bressan, The Man Behind the Wine

hande screenshot

Take a deep breath and behold a disgusting rant spewed out by (to paraphrase Einstein) an infantile and diseased mind. “Hey…filthy black APE…I DON’T PAY TAXES to put your GORILLA friends up in a HOTEL…please take them to your house where you can style them out on your dime…Oops! That money isn’t even yours…because Italians give it to you… YOU SHITTY NEGRO GOLD DIGGER.”

These words are just a few of the vile racist statements directed at Cécile Kyenge, Italy’s Minister for Integration. They don’t come from some Lega Nord fan page or wig-nut Casa Pound poster. Their author, Fulvio Bressan, a winemaker from Friuli, typed these words onto his public Facebook timeline* with the same hands he uses to harvest grapes for his (until now) nearly universally celebrated wines.

His fascist and racist tendencies are not a new or recent revelation. But until yesterday, he incubated his disgusting sentiments with relatively little push back. The aforementioned Facebook post caught the attention of Glocal and, in his post entitled “Senza Parole” (At a loss for words), Giuseppe Palmieri, one of the world’s top sommeliers, expressed disbelief while denouncing Bressan’s statements.

Above is the screenshot from Fulvio Bressan’s Facebook page from which I translated the quote above. Hande Leimer sent it to me yesterday with a note: “has Bressan’s profile been hacked?” Of course, not. But such a question is natural. For us, it is incomprehensible that anyone would write or think such things. In a perfect world, someone who makes such lovely wines would be especially immune to such hate. They would share all of our open mindedness and we’d live as one big happy compassionate wine-obsessed family. But Italy is far from perfect and Bressan’s tirades are a big fat racist reality check.

I asked Hande to share her thoughts here and I hope you will share this post with anyone who imports, distributes or drinks Bressan Wines. And big thanks to Jeremy over at Do Bianchi for reporting, as well. Over to Hande:

“Can you separate the art from its artist? From the artist’s beliefs and philosophies? These age old questions just took on a very concrete meaning for me. The racism that is well known and documented in Italian soccer has, apparently, arrived in Italian wine making. And not just in the form of wine labels that feature certain fascist historic figures, which could be swept away by saying they are gimmicks and not statements pro this or that philosophy, like an Italian court has done.

The Minister for Integration, Cécile Kyenge, has been at the receiving end of many racist attacks since she took office 4 months ago. Actually, I am sure she has been subject to these for a long time now, but her arrival at the top political ranks has made these hateful acts more conspicuous. Due to my involvement in food issues, I have long seen the social, economic and political problems that arise with the many immigrants who come to Italy and are an inseparable part of the food industry by now.

Minister Kyenge’s and the government’s acts and decisions are, and should always be, subject to public debate. But the terminology used above, and throughout Bressan’s Facebook timeline is unacceptable.

As I started tweeting and posting about this on Facebook, I first didn’t want to believe. I wanted to give Fulvio the benefit of doubt. His Facebook account might have been hacked. Further exploration revealed such posts had been published over the past month. It might not be himself, but a spoof account! But, no, there were many common “friends” we had, all from the wine industry. I asked people who know him personally. And slowly, a picture started to emerge.

I posted about Fulvio’s statement on Facebook. The comments have heated up. The responses are numerous and passionate. I think the best comment came from Fulvio Bressan himself. He explains his anti-immigration ideas, all rather in a polite fashion. But his reply is totally divorced from reason and from the very essence of the offending post. He claims he is not racist and has never had any racist ideas.

It looks like you are putting words in my mouth. First of all, my statements against Minister Kyenge come from the fact that I cannot tolerate the following: to see my fellow Italians unemployed and sleeping in shacks in Reggio Emilia; the fact that people hang themselves alone in a silent garage because they can’t make ends meet; parents who don’t have money to feed their children…ENOUGH…Im sick of seeing a Minister who squanders the money and fees paid by ITALIANS and distributes them to who had never contributed anything to the nation. Also, my maternal grandfather was an immigrant and he never challenged the laws or the people who received him. I would also like to clearly state: I have never had any racist or nazi idea or biased notion against any other race. Especially those who come to Italy with a job and shelter and, like me, can be tracked and controlled by the law at any time. If this is asking too much, and if always using registered and properly paid workers…If being law abiding is a CRIME then I can accept your criticism…Otherwise, I do not accept the silly nonsense of those who want to do the politically correct thing, saying “oh the poor people” even though they do nothing for our devastated country. Proudly Italian fiercely uncompromising, Fulvio L. Bressan.

Revisit Katie’s translation of his post above. Let that sink in for a minute. Here is a person, who has just written these words (and many others of a similar persuasion) and is apparently not aware of these being racist.

He adds in a later, perhaps more candid statement:

The anger lies in seeing money that ITALIANS contributed by sweating blood in a foundry thrown out of the window paying for a hotel in CALABRIA. Meanwhile I see photos of my countrymen rummaging in the trash to find food …. or when I take food to the food bank and they tell me that their users have tripled … NO … I can not accept that. .. as a man, and first of all as CITIZEN ….. We already have enough cretins in Italy we don’t need to IMPORT them.

For me, wine is terroir. Human intervention, however minimal, is part of terroir. Thus, I can not drink a wine that has been made by someone who thinks this way. I am boycotting the wines of Bressan.”

These arguments are unhinged, illogical and rife with the tired rhetoric of that absurd affliction called nationalism. Though social media has been Bressan’s vehicle for hate, I hope it will also be his downfall. Intravino’s post calls his acts “social media suicide”. But the internet has a short memory, so the outcome is anyone’s guess. I am joining Hande’s boycott. Actually I am going even further by sharing this post with those who sell and import his wines. As a wine educator, it is my responsibility to believe fully in the wines I endorse and in the people who make them. But as a journalist and human, it is even more essential to expose hate and injustice. Even outstanding wine made with the noblest of philosophies can be ruined by it’s creators intervention.

*Fulvio’s rants are on his personal page and not that of the vineyard. Nevertheless, we are moved to share these ideas which we, and others, are convinced cannot and should not be divorced from the final product. The vineyard’s own website and publicity heavily feature Fulvio as the heir to a great wine tradition. As wine educators and journalists, we must tell the stories behind the wine, especially when they are so profoundly offensive.

2017-02-17T15:16:41+00:00 August 23rd, 2013|Categories: Wine & Spirits|40 Comments


  1. Mary F August 23, 2013 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    I will make sure never ever to buy or drink this man’s wines. You know how much I love Italy, but some of things I have been reading about the shameful treatment of Cécile Kyenge and the racist taunting that Mario Battotelli has endured disgust me. Blatant racism is something that mortifies me about being a southerner in the US. I hate to see it in another country that I love.

  2. Alfonso Cevola (@italianwineguy) August 23, 2013 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    thank you for sharing this , Katie. his actions are deplorable

  3. Kristina August 23, 2013 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    Of course this doesn’t surprise me and thanks for posting. I also want to know what type of back peddling can be done in a situation like this. My experience with racism in this country is that people don’t know what racism is, and the overt racism of the type which opens this article is not seen as ‘that bad’. Anyone who complains about it is just a whinger, and is cast aside. I have been told to my face that I need to accept being called a “negra” because that’s the word for “us” and people who try to insist otherwise are sorely misguided and ignorant. There’s never a high-level rebuke of these behaviors so there’s no leadership on tackling them, and though they have had a ministry for equal opportunity, here equal opportunity is a half-assed attempt at addressing gender disparity. No other categories, aside from disabilities, are contemplated.

    (@arlene- the salary of the US president was raised to $400,000 during Clinton’s time in office, but i do agree that the majority of political salaries in Italy are ridiculous in comparison to what they do/responsibilities they have when you look at the size of the country and its relative importance in the global political sphere)

  4. Katie August 23, 2013 at 5:00 pm - Reply

    @alfonso deplorable. the casa vinicola has already begun their cowardly back peddling.

  5. Jessica August 23, 2013 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    Clear, concise, straight forward posts like this, written without fear are just one of the reasons I admire you Katie. Unfortunately there are many people in the world, not just Italy though it unfortunately seems more tolerated here, who spew hate speech and then hide behind the idea that it is just an “opinion” and therefore they are not racist. The sad thing is I’m sure Bressan will have some supporters who believe these same ideals, but I hope many more back this initiative and also stand up for the Italians who are open minded and do not believe that this sort of behavior should be tolerated. It’s unfortunate that people like him continue to drag Italy back in time even further, looking to blame the problems of a nation on the color of people’s skin instead of looking closely at the real problems, which are mainly rooted firmly with the very “brothers” he’s so richly defending.

  6. Katie August 23, 2013 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    thx jess! when i saw the post i was immediately transported back to the first days/months/years of obama’s arrival on the national stage. the arguments and paranoias are always the same and those who hold them are so weak and lacking in self awareness that they don’t even recognize how profoundly flawed their views are. the bressan company was quick to clarify that fulvio’s “opinions” dont represent those of the vineyard and that it is unfair to call for a boycott. they are all too quick to praise fulvio when it is convenient and distance themselves when it is uncomfortable. they will pay a price for all this, i am sure, but it’s unclear whether it will be economic or simply a temporary “brutta figura”.

  7. Michconnors August 23, 2013 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    Note to self: don’t buy any wine from Bressan. Amen to Arlene’s post above! Sadly, I have already had to defriend some Italian acquaintances on FB that were posting similar vitriol. I applaud Kyenge for exposing this nasty underbelly for what it is.

  8. Arlene Gibbs August 23, 2013 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    Hmmmm, I doubt he became this angry when it was made public that the PDL was paying a former showgirl, with no public policy experience an over 200k a year (higher than the President of the United States), salary in the Lombardy regional government.

    He’s racist plain and simple and unless he’s fired/suspended from his family’s company, the blowback will be swift and economically painful.

  9. Michael Housewright August 23, 2013 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    I just read your post and Jeremy’s. What a goddamned mess! I have friends who are directly linked to Bressan and whose livelihoods depend on Bressan’s wines. These are good people, progressive, and with truly compassionate world views. This is a terrible day for those injured on both sides of Mr Bressan’s position. I cannot help but feel a sense of misery for all affected. I wanted so vehemently to believe Hande’s post to me was SPAM. While it is very unlikely the man will apologize, it is highly likely that the good people caught in his insensitivity have much to lose. Thank you for sharing this post today even if it made me feel profound despair.

  10. Sue August 23, 2013 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    I have been following these stories since Cecile Kyenge took office. It makes me sick and disgusted by what has gone on in Italy. I know racism is everywhere but this just makes me ashamed. Why not show outrage for what Burlesconi has done to this country (because the rich hang together). She is a strong,intelligent woman and I hope she can withstand the barrage of insults. I hope Italians will stand with her and speak out against these insults.

  11. Catherine August 23, 2013 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing Katie, it is really important to stand up, be counted and argue against views like this. Unfortunately, historically, during times of economic crisis immigrants are usually the first to take the blame. The situation is similar in the UK at the moment (even though we have a longer history of immigration and are supposedly more integrated) and although public figures, politicians in particular would not be able to use such repulsive language, the underlying prejudices are the same.

  12. Joy August 23, 2013 at 8:54 pm - Reply


    Thank you for writing this post. I too didn’t want to believe what Hande was posting at first. It is a shame because I used to proudly sell Bressan in my wine store. As much as I love the wines, I can’t stomach another sip knowing this man’s hands were involved.

    Great article, well written. Thank you!

  13. […] Facebook messages about an angry and overtly racist comment made by infamous Friuli wine producer, Fluvio Bressan.  Bressan published his views on Cécile Kyenge, Italy’s Minister for Integration.  His words […]

  14. Sarah May August 23, 2013 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    I so agree that part of terroir is the human beings involved. Wine does get made on its own. Thank you for posting. Also I agree with @Arlene.
    I never understand how any adult could think this is appropriate on any level at any time. He deserves the shit storm that is coming.

  15. Vittorio Rusinà August 23, 2013 at 11:16 pm - Reply

    Grazie Katie Parla per il coraggio di raccontare queste cose, purtroppo qui in Italia è già iniziata l’opera di greenwashing su Bressan, troppi interessi coinvolti, il silenzio di molti su atteggiamenti razzisti che nascondono sentimenti in qualche modo condivisi, anzi c’è già chi lamenta una sorta di “linciaggio” nei confronti di questo produttore, un’Italia che deve crescere, evolversi, andare al di là dei limiti del corporativismo.

  16. Luca Paolo August 24, 2013 at 2:24 am - Reply

    Brava, bene, bis! Uccidiamo il mostro, mandiamolo in bancarotta, lei potrà sentirsi a posto con la conoscenza e il mondo sarà un posto migliore.
    Non perdo neanche tempo a prendere le distanze dalle parole di Bressan che si qualificano da sole, mi chiedo solo, non conoscendola, se ha mai profuso un tale impegno – quello necessario alla scrittura del post – per, che so, una delle tante ingiustizie che quotidianamente interessano milioni di persone in ogni parte del mondo, portate avanti da governi e organismi internazionali, aziende, banche, ecc.
    Interi paesi in Europa sono ridotti in ginocchio perché milioni di europei non si informano, non leggono, non studiano, e finiscono per credere a ogni favoletta raccontino i governi sulla necessità di tagliare la spesa, ridurre i servizi, privatizzare, ecc.
    Non so se lei l’abbia mai fatto, spero di sì, in caso contrario però sarebbe bene cominciare, perché qualche centinaia di migliaia di bambini greci, portoghesi, spagnoli, irlandesi, italiani e presto di altre nazionalità non avranno mai un futuro, saranno schiavi di un sistema economico disumano e alla mercé di gruppi di potere che presidieranno, soffocandolo, ogni antro di libertà.
    Fa bene a scagliarsi contro il razzismo di Bressan; mi auguro abbia l’intelligenza e la volontà di fare lo stesso sforzo per attaccare da domani i tanti criminali della politica e del business europei e globali che sono i veri responsabili dei mali che lei e Bressan, ognuno per la sua parte, denunciate.

  17. Arlene Gibbs August 24, 2013 at 6:23 am - Reply

    @Kristina, thanks for letting me know. I thought it was still 250.

    A 26 year-old making that kind of salary anywhere outside of banking or Hollywood is very unusual. Plus she shouldn’t have even been on the payroll, her party should have a separate (that they, not taxpayers pay into) fund for pimps, hookers, and drugs.

  18. Katie August 24, 2013 at 9:46 am - Reply

    Find Bressan’s response (in English) on Hande’s Facebook feed and on Do Bianchi’s blog: http://dobianchi.com/2013/08/23/bressan-wine-racist-facebook/

    I’ll let the reply speak for itself but add that publishing what Bressan writes is not special or heroic (as giuseppe palmieri astutely states in the glocal commentary). it is a moral imperative. readers can be outraged, or not. they can boycott, or not. but Bressan’s commentary doesn’t get to stay hidden behind a language barrier any longer.

  19. cristina August 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing. Wen I read those words yesterday I was appolled. Could not believe the violence of those words.
    I think that the civilized world needs to take a stand and I would say that the most natural position for me is boycotting him. I am sorry but cannot separate the “art from the artist”.

  20. […] wall. They’re in Italian so I couldn’t understand them but you can read a translation here. In them he refers to the Cecile Kiyenge, the Congo-born Italian minister, as a ‘negro […]

  21. […] Bloggen Parla food har översatt uttalandet, som gjordes på facebook, till engelska och skrivet ett mycket läsvärt och tänkvärt inlägg om såväl uttalandet som om Fulvio Bressan (läs inlägget här). […]

  22. Wine Harlots August 24, 2013 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    Katie, I thank you and Hande for having the courage to write about this, and not look away. Shining a bright light on hate is the way to disinfect evil.

    I wonder what the world world like today, and if anything would have changed, if in the 1930’s (during the last global depression) if the world would have stood up against a few people spewing race-hate. I may be melodramatic, evil starts small, but left unchecked can have dire consequences.

    Thank you again for taking a public stand.

    All the best,

    Nannette Eaton

  23. Luca August 25, 2013 at 11:44 am - Reply

    Boycott Bressan’s wines.Boycott forever

  24. Marla August 26, 2013 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    His comments are highly reprehensible and an embarrassment to his fellow countrymen. Thank you for standing up and speaking out. It is only through shining the light of public outcry on these type of comments, that people learn what decent respectful society deem unacceptable behavior. Shame on you Fulvio Bressan.

  25. […] recommend that you read ex-pat blogger Katie Parla’s editorial; Stefano’s comment on my coverage of the incident; Alder Yarrow’s reflections on […]

  26. Megan H. August 26, 2013 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    Very courageous of you to speak up, Katie. It takes people like you speaking out to create change in this world.

    His behavior is unacceptable and while I doubt I’ve ever seen his wines, I won’t ever buy them if given the chance. It might sound old fashioned these days, but how we treat people is more important than anything else. Even if this was the best wine in the world I’d pass.

  27. Megan H. August 26, 2013 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    And if you know who imports his wines to the US, I’d be glad to write a strongly worded letter and send it out! 🙂

  28. Luca Paolo August 26, 2013 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    I hadn’t realize that writing in Italian would have made my comment hard to read to most. So I’m going to put down my thoughts again, but in English language.
    There is no question that Bressan words are a shame (to himself in the first place), in our society there should be no place for such ignorant and stupid way of thinking, let aside expressing, and I hope that sometime soon such ideas will have totally disappeared from man’s mind (I doubt it though).

    Yet, as much as Bressan words disturbed me, so did the race to naming and shaming, and above all promoting the boycott, which followed.

    Firstly, because I don’t see it as just calling for a boycott of a product behind which is the work of many, because of the deplorable thoughts and words of one. Yes, it’s true, the winemaker is part of the terroir, which makes a good person’s wine certainly better than an asshole’s one, all other things being equal.
    But, how often do you bother asking a producer – of whatever thing – what his political, social or ethical ideas are? As long as it’s something that you don’t normally do, then I find it quite specious dumping all our rage on the one who expressed his (once again, shameful) ideas openly to the public.
    How many producers share Bressan ideas while being much more careful about communicating them? Of course there are many; but as long as we don’t visit the winemaker of each wine we buy, we’ll never know, and we’ll be fine with it.
    I think we should not mess our opinion of a wine with that we have of its maker, which incidentally in most cases is not just one. How manu of you have read Celine books? And admired Caravaggio’s paintings? Two of the greatest artists in human history, yet two awful persons, for different reasons. Did you ever call for a boycott of Celine’s works because of its anti-semitism?

    Secondly, and most important to me: we’re destroying a man who has openly expressed his awful ideas, okay, but how often do we stand up against any awful action (actions, not ideas) that we come across daily?
    I see most commentators here are Americans.
    I wonder if you people put that very same effort and obstinacy that I see in circulating Bressan words and calling for the boycott, in condemning your government-sponsored wars throughout the world, corporations spilling oil barrels into our seas or testing drugs on African kids?
    I wonder if you (and here I’m referring to everyone) ever bought Nestlé, Barilla, Unilever products, to name a few really unethical ones? Do you manage to make sure that no illicit or morally unacceptable conduct can be found behind anything you buy everyday?

    Some actions kill people, Bressan words offend our awareness but haven’t killed any as yet. I’d be glad if you could contradict me, but my point here is: we can only be entitled to finger-pointing as long as we fight any kind of injustice with the same dedication.
    Otherwise it all becomes just a way to make us feel good, just for once.
    If that’s the case, let’s keep up with the pillory, in the end we haven’t gone a long way since the Middle Ages.

  29. Katie August 26, 2013 at 11:24 pm - Reply

    Welcome back, Luca. We can read your comment. the reason we didnt reply has nothing to do with the language in which it was written.

  30. giorgio August 27, 2013 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    while I despise this fat arse, what about all the other italian wine producers who are probably worse than him but live in silence? http://goo.gl/JnX2Ev

    • Katie August 27, 2013 at 5:00 pm - Reply

      Hande already linked to 2 previous articles about this above. It is also reprehensible, obviously, but no one here is drinking those wines anyway. And the message is on the bottle, not hidden behind a language barrier.

  31. Terry August 29, 2013 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    Christ his narcissistic self-justifications are almost worse than his original comments, and EXACTLY the same thing I hear time and time again by racists racially abusing Mario Balotelli: ‘oh he brings it on himself’, ‘he’s an arsehole so he deserves it’, ‘stop being a knight in shining armour’ etc etc. It’s the one thing that makes me want to flee the country, only I look at the UK and hear the same drip-drip anti-immigrant horseshit, the same pro-cuts rhetoric, the same upper class crooks lookign after their own.

    The worst though, the very worst, is when you dare to pick someone up on their racism and they call you a hypocrite because your country (and as a foreigner you as an individual represent your entire nation and everything it’s ever done in its history) did bad things in the past – AHA! they’ve got you there. Your opinion is now redundant, and allows them to justify themselves further as they rail against the hypocrites who point the finger but why don’t they look at problems closer to home, hmm?

    Moaning about immigration and the same bemoaning their chances in Italy and desperately searching for any way to emigrate and work abroad. Wankers.

    Rant over.

  32. Lauren September 4, 2013 at 6:24 am - Reply

    Hey Katie, thanks for the excellent post. Keep on keepin on!

  33. Jack September 10, 2013 at 4:12 am - Reply

    A colleague of mine shared this story to me, I was appalled by what I saw. I have trawled through his Facebook account, to find that there IS STILL racist abuse on his very angry Facebook wall.


  34. Chris September 11, 2013 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    Has he taken a good look in the mirror… really intolerable behaviour, ignorant and absolutely stupid remarks. I will save my thoughts of this individual for my friends who appreciate wine, good Italian wines – just not his. I will never buy any wines associated with this individual and will make sure everyone knows about this ignorant asinine behaviour. I apologize to all those associated with the winery that they will suffer a devastating economic blow, but the winery must take a stand and turf this individual. Wow, in this day and age!

  35. Dina September 12, 2013 at 11:36 am - Reply

    Wow!! People never cease to amaze me and not in a good way. Can’t believe what some people put out there, shocking.

  36. […] of Italy” on the bookshelf and there it sat. And then last month when the mess in Friuli with Fulvio Bressan hit the internets this book fell into my lap. I thumbed through it and started thinking about racism.When I was young […]

  37. […] wine list is fantastic (except the offensive presence of Bressan’s wines) and there are some real steals, especially if you steer clear of Tuscany and Piedmont (and resist […]

  38. On Love and Loss. - Italian Wine Geek January 29, 2015 at 10:54 pm - Reply

    […] Facebook messages about an angry and overtly racist comment made by infamous Friuli wine producer, Fluvio Bressan.  Bressan published his views on Cécile Kyenge, Italy’s Minister for Integration.  His words […]

  39. […] Schioppettino or Verudzzo should have a link to the screenshot of his attack on Kyenge as well as his response which consumers can use to evaluate how they personally feel about supporting his […]

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