Aceto Balsamico di Modena, the story in the words of Adriano Grosoli – Italian Cuisine

Aceto Balsamico di Modena, the story in the words of Adriano Grosoli

Ninety years just completed: Adriano Grosoli, born on May 2, 1929, is the last "great old man" of balsamic vinegar, and in June he will be named Cavaliere del Lavoro, telling us about his "roaring years" in an interview with everything round

A family activity that dates back to the end of the nineteenth century, a great passion, a deep knowledge of one's roots and a great desire to look ahead. These are the ingredients of the adventure of Adriano Grosoli, class 1929, which in the post-war period is at the helm of the company founded by his grandfather. And he decides to focus on the production of Balsamic Vinegar. With commitment and passion, he dedicates himself not only to processing, but also to the activity of protection and promotion: in 1965, on the occasion of the regulatory reorganization of the Aceti sector, he is one of the promoters of the request for recognition and regulation of the product. In 1974 he obtained the Ministerial License for the production of Balsamic vinegar of Modena and on this he invests everything.

In those years, beyond the excellence linked to the individual families of Modena, only four entrepreneurs "made" Balsamic vinegar: besides Adriano Grosoli, Giorgio Fini, Elio Federzoni and Giuseppe Giusti. It was they who brought the Balsamic Vinegar of Modena to foreign markets and it was still Grosoli who, together with other producers, founded the Modena Balsamic Vinegar Protection Consortium in 1993, presenting the application for registration of the IGP denomination to the European Union.

In 2016 theVinegar of the Duke joins the Italian Historical Business Union. Today the company has 20 employees, exports 75% of its production to 40 countries and is one of the best-known Balsamic brands in the world.

How was the entrepreneur in the Balsamic field in those years? What were the difficulties?

It was exciting, but most had not yet understood the potential of this product. So the difficulties were on many fronts; meanwhile the balsamic vinegar was known only in the area around Modena and in some foreign market, where some brave producer had gone, by chance or with knowledge, to food fairs. THEthe rest of Italy knew and used only wine vinegar. So there was to be "promotion" to make it known. Then we had the legislative problem, because it was regulated only by a DM. of 1965 which treated it simply as a bitter vinegar of special wine, but balsamic vinegar is much more!

In the 60s the production of balsamic vinegar had an especially family dimension. You have transformed it into a leading product in the food valley, of an industrial level. How did you reconcile these two aspects?

Obviously when the demand for the product was growing exponentially, we had to deal with the production problem. We have grown rather quickly, and every year we made substantial investments in barrels and vats of precious woods, such as those of master Renzi of Modena. The raw materials were local, but we had to look for producers who could supply substantial quantities, and it was not easy. They had failed to find a supplier for that quality and quantity, so they bought it from us. I think we managed to reconcile great growth with the previous small size, working very hard, increasing the size and number of employees, but keeping the focus on vinegar quality and packaging care. A good product, presented well and at the right price, also thanks to the devaluation of the lira for a long time, have determined the growing success.

Who were your clients at the beginning?

Almost exclusively foreigners, mainly Italian first or second generation emigrants who had started importing food products, but also companies managed by foreigners, always looking for new Italian products to be included in their markets. On the other hand, the tourists who came on holiday in Italy, especially Germans and Austrians, they tried the product during the holidays and wanted to take it home, and then also find it in their own cities.

How has the clientele of balsamic vinegar changed since then? Is there more product culture today?

The clientele has changed a lot, because at the beginning there was the need to explain what it was; the first question at foreign fairs was "Is this wine?" To which he promptly followed an astonished expression as they felt it was "balsamic vinegar"… this stranger … Afterwards, I told the story of how the production technique, the history of the family that always fascinated, especially Americans, has been produced for centuries in the Modena area. Then the tasting and the question "How do you use it in Italy? What dishes do you prepare? . And the balsamic came into their kitchens like ambassador of made in Italy. Today the approach is often of those who already know what balsamic vinegar is, how it is used and what its history is, thanks to the mass of information coming from the web. But are we sure that this is really the case? I believe that in reality there is still a lot to learn about the different qualities of balsamic vinegar and its use. For example, when I see glaring errors like the advice to use a low-end balsamic vinegar on strawberries or Parmesan, I think "So we are sure that, once tried, they will never want to use it again". On the web, and even outside, sometimes distorted information is spread, which takes hold and struggles to correct. There is a superficial knowledge influenced by fashions and trends.

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