A Wine Agent Committed to Seeing You Do Well

Founded in 1999, GrapeBrands became the first consignment agency in Toronto, Ontario.

But before that, Donato swapped his successful construction business for blue overalls at his uncle’s winery in italy, working every job imaginable from fermentation to filtration and bottling.

Since then, Donato has travelled worldwide to taste and experience more than 20,000 wines firsthand.

His mission? For you to taste the finest wines in the world and the experience that comes with them.

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Dear Friend:

Long before GrapeBrands was the reputable wine importer and distributor it is today...

Built on exclusive, decades-long relationships from all over the world...

I was an Italian guy working to make a name for himself in Toronto, Canada — a country that I love so much and that has done so much for me and my family.

Growing up; my father was very passionate about wine. Having worked in vineyards in Italy before immigrating to Canada he saw his father make wine and work olive and fava fields. So when it came time to eat at our house, dinner wasn't truly ready until there was bread and wine on the table.

But despite learning a lot about wine and always appreciating it; I chose a totally different career path to start. I built an insurance bonding company: cutting my teeth in business by working with contractors and manufacturers across the construction world.

Business was good. Really good; actually – but it wasn't fulfilling.

So one day; I changed everything.

From the Stars to the Stables (’dalle stelle alle stalle’)

Seeing firsthand the passion that fuelled my father and grandfather, I realized I didn't feel the same for my current path.

So I had a decision to make — do I continue what I'm doing, or give in to my curiosity about working with wine? After all, wine had been in my family for generations. It was in my blood.

Not long after that: I dropped everything and moved to Italy.

I traded my BMW, big city apartment, and stable career in Canada for an old Renault 4, blue overalls, and the opportunity to start at the ground floor of the wine industry in the outskirts of northern Italy.

Working for years at a 60-million-litre winery, I worked every single job that you could imagine, including:

  • The garbages, plastic, and cardboard
  • Bottling lines, front loading
  • Working with filtration
  • Helping with maintenance
  • Cleaning presses

But you know what? All of these roles helped set GrapeBrands' foundation and gave me a completely different perspective of the industry.

It also led to some important observations...

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Here's what really affects wine quality

I'd say there's no such thing as bad wine, as long as it has no flaws.

Having worked in every single part of the farming to production process myself I came to fully realize all that attributes to making quality wine from grapes.

Did you know that 85 percent of a wine's quality is attributed to the fruit and farming? 85 percent! Maybe even more: which led me to start asking questions like:

  • What is the terroir?
  • How do we protect vines from pesticides and plant disease?
  • How is fruit quality optimized ?
  • What is the vinification process?
  • Details about pruning and the trimming?
  • How is moisture contained inside of the vine given climatic and alternating farming conditions.
  • What is the response to climate change
  • How much time do they spend in the vineyards caring for the plants?

What's crazy is that none of those questions even scratch the surface like disposition to the sun, earth mineral content, nitrogen, nutrients, age of vines, clones and other wine fundamentals like clean farming; pesticides, drainage, disease control in the ground; sugar grade; and much more.

This experience not only provided me with a unique starting point in the industry: but gave me a whole different doorway into the industry and a whole different perspective that catapulted me in a different way.

More importantly, it created my drive to share with others like you why it's critical to appreciate what is in your wine; where it comes from: and how it all impacts your body and last how to enjoy this luxurious pleasure.

That's when my uncle had an idea.

Grappa, a full moon, and that fateful midnight conversation

One night in Sardinia, along with a consulting winemaker, we were drinking grappa and having a conversation when he asked me this simple question:

'Why don't you go to Toronto and start a wine company?"

I don't think I'd ever really considered the idea. But being the fiercely independent guy I am, I knew that if I was ever to do anything in the wine industry, I would have to build something of my own from the ground up, away from my family.

Next thing I knew, I was on a plane back to Canada with three wines — a white, a red; and a sparkling — and a dream.

GrapeBrands was officially born.

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