Pure emotion around heritage, craftsmanship and innovation.


Florentina Denz, Managing Director Denz Wines

B.I. Collection: Florentina, you used to work in sales at the IT specialist SAP. Now you run a wine trading business in Zurich. How did this major “career change” come about?

I discovered my passion for wine through Silvio Denz, my father-in-law. He introduced me to the world of wine from the beginning and gave me the most amazing wines. Although I come from a German wine region, Silvio infected me with his enthusiasm and knowledge. I always wanted to know more and was allowed to ask him all my questions. In 2018, when Silvio decided to focus more on his wineries, the vineyards and the production of the wine, he left Denz wines in the hands of his son Claudio, my husband. Claudio and I were quickly aware of what a gem it was. With my experience from sales at SAP and my new passion for wine, it was my desire to further develop Denz wines. At SAP, I was dealing with digital products, but with wine I now get to look after something emotional to touch and enjoy. This is a challenging opportunity for me. When Silvio handed over the company to the next generation, my husband Claudio and me, Claudio devoted himself entirely to perfume and I took up Denz wines with my new passion.

BIC: You told us that you have realigned Denz Wines in recent years. Silvio, founder of Denz Wines and your father-in-law, is considered a very successful and established entrepreneur. How were you able to push through your new ideas in the first place?

At first I was cautious and slowly felt my way forward. But I already had Claudio, my husband, on board, so I dared to share my vision openly within the family. Silvio gave me a great vote of confidence and supported me 100%, although he was probably skeptical at first. From the beginning, we discussed strategy, my business plans and budgets quite transparently.

BIC: You have significantly expanded the range at Denz Weine and are consciously seeking collaborations with new producers, especially from Spain and Italy. Isn’t it difficult when you are a producer yourself? Aren’t you constantly accused of dormant conflicts of interest?

I first reduced the supply because we had a large inventory with no clear focus. In addition, it was important to me to put our own wines in the spotlight, to give them an attractive stage. I consciously wanted to work with producers who represent and live similar values to ours. Thus, wines from Spain were added quite recently. I do not see a conflict of interest due to the fact that we are producers ourselves. On the contrary, it is an advantage because we understand exactly what the daily challenges of a winemaker are. Thus, with our commitment and experience, we cover the entire “life cycle of wine”, from the winemaker and producer, to the seller and reseller in our auction house.

BIC: Ten years ago, it almost seemed as if new wine retailers were opening in almost every neighborhood in Basel, Bern and Zurich. In fact, in 2000 there were 2,345 registered wine trading companies, while in 2021 there are already 4,990. That is more than a doubling. How can wine retailers still differentiate themselves in this competitive environment?

From the beginning, the biggest challenge for me was to figure out who we are, how we want to position ourselves in the market, and how we want to differentiate ourselves from others. I believe that you have to give the company a soul, an identity. Denz Weine is a family business, and we want to keep it that way. We live this value with our employees and our producers, all of whom we know personally and with whom we are in lively exchange.

BIC: The market share of Swiss wine in Switzerland has risen to 42% and continues to increase. This further intensifies the competitive situation for wine retailers. Does that scare you?

I am pleased that the demand for local wines is developing positively, and I personally also like Swiss wines – especially with regional dishes. Classics like Bordeaux and Burgundy or even great Spanish wines will never go out of fashion. In addition, there are daily news and always “hypes”. That is why our careful, professional selection, which is based on the wishes and preferences of our customers, counts. Whereas for years red wines could not be heavy enough, freshness and elegance are now increasingly important, in good balance with a certain strength. This does not require 15 and more volume percentages per se. It is important to have a nuanced, well-integrated acidity, ripe tannins and tannins that give structure to the wine.

BIC: How do you find good producers? What are your criteria? How important are economic factors compared to your taste, your own touch and passion? You probably don’t have the time to spend months traveling through Spain, Italy and France to visit all the producers. Or do you go to trade shows?

Of course, “at the end” the profitability is decisive, but this does not mean that other important criteria such as in the cultivation of the vines or in the vinification are not equally valued. Added to this is our preference for family-run businesses, they simply suit us best. The whole team is working on the implementation of this strategy. We also visit trade fairs and tastings, but above all we use our own network in the wine world. Then it is important for all our employees, as well as for me, to always be on the move with an alert eye (and nose!), so there are always interesting new things to discover. When it comes to developing the product range from a particular region, travel is essential; we want to visit people on the ground to give us a comprehensive picture. One principle is important, it must never be about launching something new at any cost. We really have to stand behind it and look for producers with their own signature, who are also allowed to have rough edges.

BIC: Our magazine combines exclusive cars with art, design, fashion, high-quality photography and, above all, stories experienced by the readers themselves. Which of these elements appealed to you personally?

I am a big fan of cars! In addition, I am particularly fascinated by the design and art aspects at THE COLLECTIVE, as I also like to paint and find my own inspiration and also diversion there.

BIC: Which well-known wine producer would you like to have dinner with one day?

Although there would be many, Peter Sissek is one of my most exciting and trusted interlocutors. He is known as the maker of Pingus, one of Spain’s highest-rated and most expensive red wines, and for Château Rocheyron, a joint venture with Silvio, a jewel on the historic limestone plateau of Saint-Émilion. I was especially happy that Peter, as a family friend, came to our wedding in 2018 and brought Pingus for our guests to taste. In Silvio’s environment there are other versatile and interesting characters from whom I may benefit.

BIC: You’ve been a mother of twins for a few weeks now. That must have changed your life a lot. How do you feel about it?

It’s great! Much has changed so beautifully and deliberately, and it has happened at just the right time. Denz Wines was my first baby who can already walk, and now it’s my twin girls’ turn.

BIC: How much will this change your professional role as CEO of Denz Weine?

I organized myself differently and took time off until September to be there for the kids. It is important to me to take care of them, and with twins there is a lot to do. I get a lot of family support from Claudio’s mother Rita, and Claudio himself also lends a hand. In this way, I can continue to shape and support important strategic issues at Denz Weine. For me, this is not a contradiction – there may be different “Florentinas”, because I do everything with full passion.

BIC: In terms of the double burden of motherhood and career, what will be the most important thing for you in organizing your time?

The most important thing for me is that Claudio and I continue to work together as a team. We draw clear boundaries between children’s time and working time and support each other.

BIC: How can we imagine Florentina as a wine connoisseur? Is there a good wine at home every night?

For me, enjoying wine does not mean drinking wine every night. But of course I also bring wines from work, which we taste together. On weekends we like to enjoy a selected wine with friends or Silvio in peace.

BIC: Wine, along with art, watches, jewelry and cars, has also become a collectible. Major auction houses like Sotheby’s also offer wine auctions. Why do people collect wine in the first place?

I hope that wine is collected with passion and not just as an investment in the cellar. Personally, I wish that one consciously selects and enjoys the appropriate wine for the right occasion. Drinking wine also has an important cultural value, it joy of sharing, enjoying together and therefore associated with beautiful memories.

BIC: Few things are as versatile as wine. Different grape varieties from many countries make the fermented grape juice a real passion for many people. The price varies from a few francs per bottle to a seven-figure sum. But does expensive always mean good?

No, a high price is not automatically an indicator of the quality of a wine. The price depends on many factors, such as the origin and region, the vintage, the name of the winemaker and something of the most important: the quantity of bottles offered of each vintage. There are other factors, such as media presence. Some wines live from their history, the status and cult that has arisen from it. But there are very many wines that are available at an affordable price and offer excellent quality. The tastes and preferences of each wine lover are unique and subjective, so it is important to taste different wines and gain your own experience to find out what you like best.

BIC: Isn’t that also a double standard? On the one hand we see the trends towards Sustainability, Longevity and Conscious Consumption and on the other hand we declare fermented grape juice a collectible. A bottle of Romanée Conti 1945 has achieved a price of USD 558,000 US dollars at a Sotheby’s auction. How do you deal with it?

First of all, I am not a moral apostle. It is possible that there is a contradiction between the trend towards sustainability, longevity and conscious consumption on the one hand and collecting wine at astronomical prices on the other. Nevertheless, I see wine as a collector’s item, which does not exclude being responsible with it. Many wine lovers collect wine out of passion and interest in the history and culture of wine and not only because of its high prices. Therefore, in our auction house we carefully examine the history of the wine, from which source and through which hands it has passed, how it was stored and transported. The network is also enormously important for avoiding counterfeiting. All this is crucial to act responsibly and transparently in today’s world.

BIC: Would you describe yourself as a wine collector?

In terms of me personally, I would describe myself as a beginner in collecting wine. My father-in-law is an experienced collector and Claudio and I are slowly starting to build our own collection.