Winery Owner, Richard "Dick" Parsons
Richard Parsons purchased Il Palazzone in 2000. He is best known for his prominent role in American business having been Chairman and CEO of Time Warner, and Chairman of Citigroup. You may have seen his face on the cover of Newsweek, Black Enterprise, or another magazine. I asked him how he came to be a Brunello producer.
Dick: I was not committed to Brunello at first. For my 50th birthday, I took my wife, myself, and some friends, on a tented safari in Africa...and you get up in the morning and watch the world come alive out there on the savannah. It is a fabulous thing. And one day I was sort of contemplating, this is cool, I'm really liking this. At that point in time I was fairly well off, because Time-Warner had done really well before the AOL merger. So I said to my wife, maybe I'll retire. She said, "You're 50 years old, you can't retire, I don't want to have this conversation with you for at least another ten years.
And secondly, when we do have the conversation, don't give me any nonsense about how maybe you'll teach or write...because what would you do the next week? You work. You need to find something that will absorb your time and attention and pull you away from work and that you can establish an interest in. So that when you stop working you can move into it."
I thought it was good advice. It would be fun to own a vineyard. I had brought all these wines with us on the safari from my collection, we drank very well.
So, the next year, we went to Florence...and we set-up base camp there, the same group of people that were on the safari. The women all went shopping, all day, every day....I had this guy, Silvio, who would pick them up every morning and drop them off at night."Incredible" was all he ever said.
So the guys, we started up north of Lucca, and we drove down through Chianti, looking for vineyards and fields, and we ended up in Montalcino, and we had a great Brunello, and I looked around and said, this is the place.And that's how I ended up in Montalcino. And then I spent the next year looking for a vineyard in Montalcino.
Me: And Il Palazzone happened to be available?
Dick:Yes.There's a big dollop of luck in everything. That was good luck.
You can read much more about Dick, and how he came to be a wine maker, in my full interview with him, in an upcoming post.