On-premise, when we think of Italy, we think of wine. But Frank Guerrera, Founder and CEO of Punzoné Organic Vodka, is importing vodka from the land of his forefathers to great acclaim in the U.S., proving there is more to his homeland than just vino.
“I spent six years developing this brand in Italy, which was no easy task,” says Guerrera. “My main focus was to bring a cocktail I created at home to life on the market with what I would consider the finest ingredients in the world out of Italy. Then to take it a step further we did it organically.”
In addition to the organic vodka, Punzoné also produces a Lemoncino and a Blood Orange Originale, a flavorful fusion of the organic vodka, Abruzzi Sangiovese Grape Sangria and Natural Blood Oranges from Calabria. Every single ingredient in all three Punzoné products is sourced straight from the ground to the bottle and has been certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the European Union. Securing such extensive organic certification is no small feat. Each ingredient must be traced back to its growth origins and fields must only use natural fertilizers and encourage biodiversity.
“It definitely differentiates us,” says Guerrera of the process. “People are not used to Italian vodkas, for one, and there are a few organic vodkas out there, but Punzoné is positioning itself as a luxury, organic vodka. We’re not just an Italian brand, we’re not just an organic brand. We represent something different, and that is luxury organic.”
The quality of Punzoné Organic Vodka is hard to argue. In fact, the brand received the only Double Gold medal awarded at the 2015 Bar Business Spirits Competition. All that is left for Guerrera is to bring the product to the masses. Currently being distributed in six states in the U.S., the goal in 2016 is to expand Punzoné’s reach as its reputation grows.
“For us it’s about getting the bar owner and the mixologist to really understand what Punzoné is and that we’re not just another vodka in a saturated category,” says Guerrera. “Once I get them past that barrier of, ‘Another vodka’, and I really make them understand what Punzoné represents, they’re a customer for life. The mixologists embrace the brand and they pride themselves on working with it and including it in recipes they’ve created. And it’s because of the quality of ingredients inside that bottle.”
Witnesses to the Irish whiskey boom in the marketplace today often attribute part of that movement to the large number of people in American who can claim Irish heritage. Guerrera sees similar potential amongst the equally impressive number of proud Italian-Americans in the U.S.
“It’s great to have the Italian heritage,” he says. “Being Italian, I enjoy Italian products, and America loves Italian — whether it’s food, wine, culture, cars, or clothing. Italian heritage is a big part of America, and with that, I think Punzoné is shining.”
For more information and cocktail recipes from Punzoné, visit http://www.punzone.com/.