Few know Banfi Vintners and its wines better than Lars Leicht, Trade Development Director and 32-year company veteran. And few professionals in the wine world are more dedicated to and passionate about the relationship between food and wine.
After a short stint as a city news reporter for the Oneonta Daily Star, Lars, a graduate of the State University of New York College at Oneonta, joined Banfi in 1986 as a sales representative for prestige wine accounts in Westchester County, NY. Two years later, he was appointed brand manager of Castello Banfi wines; in 1989 he was promoted to assistant director of international sales, responsible for Canada, the Caribbean and Asia. In 1994, he was named Vice President and transferred to Castello Banfi in Montalcino, Italy to coordinate the estate’s sales, marketing, and public relations in Europe, while developing its burgeoning hospitality and liaising between Banfi’s American ownership and Italian management. He returned to Banfi’s NY headquarters to look after communications and PR in 1997. In 2014 he developed Cru Artisan Wines, an in-house agency responsible for Banfi’s luxury wine portfolio. His role today is a hybrid of past responsibilities in key support for the Banfi team.
Since 1998 Lars guides annual trips to the vineyards and wineries of Italy for the Guild of Sommeliers, hosting over 100 sommeliers to date as Italian wine culture sherpa. He was translator and advisor for the movie “SOMM” and made a cameo appearance in the sequel “SOMM II: Into the Bottle.” Lars developed and is “Dean” of Cru Artisan College, an educational initiative touring multiple winemakers in key US cities with insightful seminars and exceptional tastings. He has led cooking and wine classes at Central Market in Texas, PubliX in Florida, and Degustibus Cooking School in New York, in addition to standing annual appointments to lead seminars at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Business, Columbia University Law School, and the North Miami campus of Johnson and Wales University.
His professional experience qualifies Lars as industry authority but it is his personal background – including a passion for Italian cuisine inherited from his Roman mother and a home winemaking tradition passed on by his Austrian father – that makes him the perfect ambassador for our wines. As adept at the stove as at the iPad, Lars continuously, with wit and style, brings new insight to food and wine pairing, never letting us forget that wine is food.