Many small, subtle differences make the difference, and the name encapsulates a bit of this philosophical concept that is part of me.
Welcome to the first episode of a new set of pods on the Series “On The Road Edition” hosted by Stevie Kim. Join Stevie at San Salvatore winery in Paestum, Campania where she met Giuseppe Pagano. In this first episode Giuseppe talks about how the company was created, the meaning behind its unusual name and the idea behind their unmistakable label. This episode is also available on our youtube channel Mamma Jumbo Shrimp with subtitles.
Stevie: Ok, welcome to Italian Wine Podcast Road Edition at San Salvatore, we are in Paestum, Campania and we are here, of course, with the principle of the company. His name is Giuseppe Pagano, but people call him Beppino, or Beppe or Giuseppe.
Giuseppe Pagano: Yes that’s fine, Giuseppe or Beppino
Stevie: I like Giuseppe.
Giuseppe Pagano: Okay.
Stevie: So let’s just start by introducing San Salvatore which is a relatively new company anyway, right? So explain us who San Salvatore is, why it’s called San Salvatore.
Giuseppe Pagano: Because it wants to be an acknowledgment to my father, because this winery is true it is young but it is a winery that started from afar. My father made wine, my grandfather, his father made wine on Mount Vesuvius…
Stevie: What kind of wine did he make?
Giuseppe Pagano: They used to make common wines…
Stevie: Yes, Aglianico…?
Giuseppe Pagano: They mainly made Piedirosso.
Stevie: Ah, Piedirosso.
Giuseppe Pagano: Piedirosso that was on Vesuvius made Caprettone Bianco.
Giuseppe Pagano: Then, after dad wanted to follow a little bit mom’s directions, from Boscoreale they moved to Paestum because…
Stevie: Where is it? How far away is Boscoreale…?
Giuseppe Pagano: Boscoreale is at the foot of Vesuvius. Paestum is the gateway to Cilento and the distance in kilometers is about 80 km. And it is a choice of life that they have made especially thinking about the future of their children, of us. Because according to my mother, Paestum would have had a great tourist development and here, thanks to its landed properties, we children would have had more possibilities, more chances to choose in the world, in life, in the world of work. Therefore the winery is dedicated to my father, to Salvatore who was no longer with us because he transferred to me the love for wine, this knowledge of how grapes are transformed into wine and I worked with him until I was 18 years old then unfortunately at that time my father had a health problem and he had to quit. At that point we children went in the direction of tourism, to make a long story short today we sons have four hotels, tourist facilities in the municipality of Capaccio Paestum. I have two hotels, Savoy Beach Hotel and Esplanade Hotel, however in 2003 I decided, after the opening of Savoy Beach, to go back to the world of wine.
Stevie: Almost twenty years ago.
Giuseppe Pagano: Almost twenty years ago, but I could…once the decision was made it was necessary to buy the right lands where to plant vineyards because there was no possibility to buy a company nice and ready. We had to start from scratch, also because even if there had been, they would not have been chosen by me because I had a concept of planting a company like the one I had seen in Tuscany and around Italy. And here in the area there was no example of that, so I decided to start from scratch, to begin to reclaim the land where I could then plant vineyards, and then become a winery with the construction of the winery, etc., etc….. But the name? The name is dedicated to my father Salvatore, so it is called Azienda Agricola San Salvatore. Everyone has noticed and you have already noticed, that there is a number behind it, which is 19.88 that someone mistakes for 1988 as an idea of the origin…
Stevie: I think all of them, the beginning, the foundation yes.
Giuseppe Pagano: It’s not, and I love that you are now giving me the opportunity to tell….
Stevie: Here, let’s explain to everybody.
Giuseppe Pagano: …to remove this doubt. So, first of all, the 1988 is not like that, it’s a 19 dot 88.
Stevie: Okay. 19 dot 88
Giuseppe Pagano: where 19 stands for St. Joseph (Giuseppe), because the San Salvatore winery is dedicated to my father but I wanted to put my name behind it a bit, I couldn’t add San Giuseppe so I put 19 because March 19 is St. Joseph. So, 19 stands for March 19, for St. Joseph. And then there is this dot and then there are still two 8s. But these two 8s are not two 8s but they are two infinitives put up. What does that mean? Why did I put two infinitives? Because I wanted to give long life to this company.
Stevie: But one is enough, it’s infinite.
Giuseppe Pagano: Okay but I compare an infinity to a not-so-nice thing, to a life sentence for a person. What is a life sentence for a man? It is an infinite thing but in reality it is not really like that because this person normally, at least in Italy, after 25 years of good behavior is out so I wanted this company to have a very long life. And so, since there is this comparison with life imprisonment, I wanted to be sure that there were two life sentences, and therefore two infinite ones. But when they were put up they made two eights, so 88 and therefore many people confuse 19 and 88 with 1988. This is the real reason for these two numbers. Then what happened? That confusing these numbers, I realized that 1988 is also the year in which I got married. My wife contributed a lot to the building of this company, of the winery and of everything else. Even if she never came, she contributed a lot because she took care of all the work that I would have had to do if I had not taken care of this company, that is the hotels. She took on the workload that I normally did so that the hotels could function well, also because they had to continue to subsidize the farm. Because the farm has needed pumping over the years. And then this 1988 is also the year in which my first son, Salvatore, was born. That’s why this 1988 even if we want to call it 19 dot 88 had every reason to enter the name of the company.
Stevie: Yeah, so, it’s a mélange of your family history basically.
Giuseppe Pagano: That’s right. I’m happy and I was lucky to be able to put in two numbers, in 19 and 88 all this beautiful story that explains the philosophy, a bit of the founder, that is me, the attention I have in the details. In this way it catches me telling you why I am so attentive to these details. Because I come from a hotel experience I had in a hotel, where the previous owners were German, where they taught me that many small, subtle differences make the difference. And I generally like to tell it first in German: dass viele kleine, subtile Unterschiede einen Unterschied machen. Many small, subtle differences make the difference. And the name encapsulates this philosophical concept that is part of me.
Stevie: Well. Talking about these many, many little things that make a difference, I’d like to get to this unmistakable logo I have to say, of this female buffalo (bufala in Italian), right?
Giuseppe Pagano: No, it’s a buffalo.
Stevie: Buffalo. Do you feel like telling us the origins of this logo?
Giuseppe Pagano: Yes, everything starts from a very precise idea which is the one, according to us at that time, mine and the one of our graphic designer who is Mario Cavallaro from Eboli, that a wine represents a territory, that is it tells about a territory, therefore, it is the best ambassador of the territory itself and in order to root it even more in the territory, that is that people can immediately tie it to our land, it had to be tied to a logo that could be the story of our land. At the beginning we immediately thought about a temple of Paestum, we are in Paestum, our wines are Paestum IGP and therefore we immediately thought about putting a stylized temple as our logo. But thinking about it for a moment, it immediately comes to mind that you go out from Campania and they tell you you are Agrigento, you go out from Italy and they tell you Athens. Jeez! That’s not so representative we said to ourselves.
Stevie: So you did a first draft of temple?
Giuseppe Pagano: No, we just had to think about it for a moment. And then we said but why are we known? And we arrived at buffalo mozzarella. But we could not put a mozzarella on a bottle of wine, and then we said we could not even fit a female buffalo, but a buffalo bull why not? Since in Tuscany they have already used cow bulls, they have already used wild boars and above all there is a company in Piedmont, Spinetta, that has used rhinoceros. At this point we put ourselves there to work on our buffalo. Because we are a land of buffaloes, we ourselves are buffalo breeders, and our buffaloes have made an important contribution to recreating the humus in these lands that we had to reclaim and distort in a certain way, after having sown for a few years wheat and arable crops in general, so that we could recreate life in the soil. But, to tell the truth, we had no difficulty at all in this, because the land is extraordinary. But going back to our buffalo, we thought about the buffalo and then how we needed to put it on our label. And we, being buffalo breeders we thought that maybe…we took our most beautiful bull and we photographed him in every way, at a trot, at a gallop, in the light, in the shade but when we went to put these photos on our label they were dulled, it didn’t work. And one evening me and the graphic designer, Mario and I found ourselves in a bit of difficulty and we said, maybe we should have it drawn, we should have it drawn. And I said “I have a friend who is very good, he is a painter of paintings, he was the artistic director of the museum of Paestum for many years, and I can ask him”. To tell the truth, he was immediately available, he made us an extraordinary drawing. But even this one, this beautiful drawing like the photos….
Stevie: You weren’t convinced.
Giuseppe Pagano: When we went to put it on the label, it would fade the same as with the photos. At that point we were really in trouble. And with Mario one evening we reasoned, reasoned, then at the end it turned out that maybe we should have stylized it, make it as if the Greeks had done it. Because the Greeks never drew a buffalo only because the buffaloes arrived here 600 years after they had already left, after Greek life in Paestum had already ended. At this point I was revived and I immediately went to get a book of the museum of Paestum where all the photos of the ancient vases are photographed, where horses, dogs, cows are depicted and I said “you interpret how they drew a dog, a horse, a cow, try to interpret how they could have drawn a buffalo”. I’ll tell you the truth, after a couple of weeks, he comes and presents me this drawing almost exactly like this, we made some really minor changes on an A5 sheet that I…I liked right away. And I said “but did you try to do it on the label?” and he, because he couldn’t look me in the face, at one point lowered the sheet to me and said “Are you sure? Or are you kidding me?” He was in disbelief that I so quickly could have accepted a drawing like that, because maybe he thought I was too far along in years compared to him to understand something like that.
Stevie: It’s certainly unmistakable, like it or not….
Giuseppe Pagano: You can recognize it.
Stevie: …it’s a strong logo.
Giuseppe Pagano: After we chose this logo and we already used it on the label, after a few years, I was present when Mimmo Paladino attended the installation of his horse in Paestum, between the two temples, the Temple of Neptune and the Basilica. At that moment I recognized this ancestral figure, this prehistoric trait almost, that represents this buffalo with this horse of Mimmo Paladino that without wanting to resemble them in a certain way.
Stevie: Taking a half step back though, you’re actually also a female buffalo farmer, buffalo.
Giuseppe Pagano: Yes of buffaloes.
Stevie: Buffalo, buffalo, buffalo, buffalo.
Giuseppe Pagano: Yes. We are buffalo breeders because, it’s all by chance. In the sense that when I had the opportunity to buy this land it was a buffalo farm, but we had no intention of raising buffalo. We wanted available land that was suitable, and in this case it was even great for…
Stevie: For viticulture.
Giuseppe Pagano: …to plant vineyards. When we planted vines we had no idea that we wanted to commit to raising buffaloes as well. And so I decided to become a buffalo breeder because once we had 150 buffaloes that had given birth after a few months, we would be able to collect the milk money from the dairies, to which we gave our milk. I immediately realized that the income from the buffaloes could have financed the vineyard. In the end, that was exactly what happened. These buffaloes funded the vineyard when it was not yet producing.
Stevie: So that’s part of…buffalo are a substantial part of your company’s ecosystem.
Giuseppe Pagano: After the buffaloes made an important contribution, to finance the vineyard when the winery was not producing. We had the idea, some friends suggested to us also hearing what was going on around, to implant a biogas plant that could work with the wastes of our buffaloes themselves. And today we have already since 2014, since 2015 we have a biogas plant that produces almost 2 million KW of electricity per year.
Stevie: so you guys are…beyond self-sufficient.
Giuseppe Pagano: More than self-sufficient, we are… we produce, together with other photovoltaic systems that we have on the roofs of the two cellars and stables, a total of 2 million 300 thousand KW, which is exactly double what we consume, including what our suppliers of caps, labels, cardboard, bottles and transport consume. So our company is really green, actually twice as green.
Stevie: And what do you do with the extra, with what’s left over?
Giuseppe Pagano: All the energy that we don’t consume we sell to Enel.
Stevie: Okay, well done.
Giuseppe Pagano: And these are also a nice source of subsidy to the farm. A nice help to be able to look at the future with great confidence but above all it was a great help in the moments when the farm had not yet reached break even so, it let us look at the future and made us be faster in investments.
Stevie: Perfect, okay then I would close the first episode here.