The Story of Volio
Charles Lazzara’s first wine revelation came during his junior year of college while studying abroad in Florence, Italy. His mom and dad came to visit him, they rented a car on his 21st birthday, and decided to drive through the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. They somehow found themselves in a small town called Radda in Chianti, where Charles and his father happened upon a winery named Poggerino. He tasted the wines, toured the small farm, and began developing his curiosity for the wine business.
First winery on board
At 25, Charles took a leave from his straight-laced financial consulting job and grabbed a flight back to Tuscany, business plan in hand, to propose himself as Poggerino’s importer. He promised cash for the first pallet destined for Colorado, the owner and winemaker Piero Lanza agreed, and Volio was off to the races.
Charles started both Volio Vino Imports and Volio Vino Distribution, based in Denver, CO.
Up up and away
Over the ten years that followed, Imports and Distribution excelled. Charles’ network and relationships expanded, he met many brilliant, thoughtful winemakers, he drank too many wines to count, and built Volio to showcase the best of what he had experienced. Between 2010-2017, three wines from Volio’s producers made the Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines in the World–a gratifying reflection of the high standards of the Volio portfolio and the hard work of our producers.
Volio Vino Distribution sold
With significant changes to independent wine retail on the horizon in Colorado, Charles sold Volio Vino Distribution to a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway called Empire Distributors. Charles welcomed the increased time and energy he now had to dedicate himself to the growth of Volio Imports—and, by then, his two small children.
Since January, 2018, Volio Imports has seen dramatic growth, including the addition of four new team members, a revamped brand, and a bright new office and events space in the Cherry Creek neighborhood of Denver, CO. Volio now works with 30+ family-run Italian estates, 10+ wineries in France and Spain, and a collaborative project with Master Sommelier Richard Betts called My Essential.
Volio’s mission is to bring the consumer experience closer to the vineyard experience. As an importer of European fine wine we do this by empowering our carefully selected network of distributors, retailers, and restaurateurs with meaningful communication, a relentless commitment to wine education, and unparalleled customer service.
For every customer to know the journey behind each bottle of wine.
The natural byproduct of caring genuinely about the product as well as the people who create it.
A source of information for consumers and an outlet for creators. Helping form opinions on wine; building a benchmark. Providing more than just a bottle of wine, providing an experience.
Straightforward and to the point. Providing truth and information in a clear and concise method.
Using positive experiences and attitudes to guide anyone looking to learn about wine. A source of information. Building a community of like minded individuals—built around wine.
Building relationships and connecting consumers to creators. Using honest education to foster a community of people hoping to grow and learn from their own experiences.
Founder and President
Charles Lazzara started Volio Imports over ten years ago, at the age of 25, with modest intentions of promoting undiscovered, high quality wine producers from Italy back in Colorado. As the owner and President of Volio, Charles can often be found sitting in the cheap seat on economy flights around the US, Italy, France, or Spain. He is always trying to connect with customers and our network of relationships around the globe. He has led seminars on Italian wine around the US and been invited to participate at internationally renowned wine events like Aspen Food & Wine, Telluride Wine Festival, and Vinitaly.
The sale of Volio Distribution in 2017 allowed Charles to dedicate his time and energy to Volio Imports’ strategic growth, as well as spend more time with his amazing wife (Angela) and two young boys (Lorenzo and Tommaso).
Whether in Colorado, Europe, or in between, Charles is always surrounded by the people and places who inspired it all.
Director of Marketing and Operations
If Volio were a rock band, Blake would be the badass, über-cool, poker-faced bassist keeping everyone grooving steady. As Director of Marketing and Operations, Blake’s job is highly strategic. She steers Volio straight and true through all manner of growth, branding, and operational challenges, which, of course, she does with great tact and grace. Blake was Volio Imports’ first full-time hire in September 2017 and has both directly fueled and witnessed the remarkable growth the company has experienced over the last two years. She’ll be the one taking litigious notes on every call, following up with impressive detail, and always available to problem solve. She’s a “boulder” in a “rock” band (ba-dum-tsshh).
Sales and Marketing Coordinator
Ellen found herself tumbling into a vinous adventure when she went to the south of France to work at a winery during the 2017 grape harvest. Having recently graduated university, she was looking for some life direction and found it in wine. Though it may not be obvious how wine would give a film major career clarity, Ellen felt immediately at home chez Volio. As one of the fresh faces of Volio, she manages customer relationships and produces zippy content. Her past life experiences have predominantly been around music, making her highly qualified for her secondary position as Volio office DJ (until she plays The Cramps and her privileges are revoked). She can also ride a unicycle, which Charles insisted was not a required part of the interview process.
Jeremy takes organizational systems to the next level with powerful excel sheets and a keen eye for efficiency…#NerdAlert. Compliance, data, and product management are the core of his role but his commitment to continuous learning is bringing Volio to an even higher level of effectiveness. Jeremy began his career in wine sales in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio (yes–another midwesterner on the team), ultimately working for Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits and a local distributor named Solera Imports. From there, he dove into operations, running centralized purchasing and inventory operations for a 25-branch, family-owned building supply distributor. When he’s not psyched about pivot tables or clean sales data, you’ll find him combing the outdoors for the perfect vista or zipping past you on rollerblades with his dog, Grady.
La mia carriera lavativa è iniziata nel settore della moda come ragioniera, in seguito ho lavorato per anni nell’azienda di Famiglia nel settore della costruzione stradale.
Nel 2008 ho dato una svolta alla mia carriera ed ho perseguito la mia passione per il vino. Grazie ad una cantina in Veneto, la quale mi ha spedito negli Stati Uniti, ho conosciuto Charles.
Dopo una breve esperienza negli States sono ritornata in Veneto e con una deviazione di percorso sono finita a Bruxelles dove ho lavorato per una Istituzione Veneta, una piccola parentesi che poi mi ha riportata nuovamente al vino. Ho iniziato il corso di sommelier a Castelfranco Veneto (la mia città di provenienza), dove sono riuscita a portare a termini i 2 anni di corso. Nel frattempo mio Marito ed io abbiamo iniziato ad formare la nostra bellissima famiglia che ci ha dato il dono di due splendidi maschietti Lorenzo e Tommaso.
Una pausa per godere la maternità e miei figli, ed ora sono ritornata nuovamente nella strada del vino accanto a mio Marito Charles in ufficio.
La nostra passione per i viaggi, il cibo ed il buon vino è lunga ma piacevole con tante svolte e sorprese che continua a riempiere le nostre vite ed i nostri bicchieri e quella di tutti quelli con la passione per il Vino Buono! Amo il vino e la mia Famiglia.
Regional Sales Director
Sarah cut her teeth in the restaurant industry at age 15 and hasn’t slowed down since. After a stint in Philadelphia for college, she returned to her native CO and worked in management at St. Julien Hotel and Spa, Osteria Marco, and Bones from Bonanno Concepts. Sarah’s unflinching love for Volio and its producers was sparked in 2011 when she traveled to Italy with Charles as a buyer. Shortly thereafter, she joined the Volio Distribution sales team, where she stayed until the sale of the company in 2017. If you think she deserves her cape just for that (and she does), Sarah is also the co-creator of Natural Wine Week and the Women’s Wine Guild of Denver as well as the fearless leader of her sons’ school’s PTA. Sarah loves living in sunny Denver with her husband, two boys–Oliver and Theodore–and four rescue animals. We are thrilled to welcome her back into the Volio Imports family in 2019 as Regional Sales Director, covering CO, WA, OR, MT, and WY.
Regional Sales Director
James Moll is Volio’s smooth-talking, glass-swirling salesperson. He has the Texas boots to match any Barolo or Brunello. A Dallas native with more than 20 years of experience in a broad range of management positions, James has worked with some of the world’s most successful wine companies. In his decades in the business, he has built a deep network of colleagues and industry contacts, including strong distributor relationships throughout the country. Most recently, James led operations and sales teams in six states for Esprit Du Vin (EDV), a fine wine division of Palm Bay International. James lives in Dallas, TX and manages six markets in the Southwest region of the US. His good humor and humility make him a great dinner date on supplier visits.
Regional Sales Director
Over the past 12 years, Sarah Newman has beautifully segued her passion for art and art history into a career centered on Volio’s very favorite medium: wine. She has led teams at award-winning restaurants and event spaces in NY and NC to craft outstanding dining and wine education experiences. Deeply service oriented, Sarah has built a loyal network of wine and hospitality connections across the country–she joins Volio following a two-year position as a Regional Sales Manager at another well-respected Italian importer, based in Durham, NC. Sarah’s talents as an educator and student alike have led her to achieve a brag-worthy (though she doesn’t) number of wine certifications. She is currently a WSET Diploma candidate, completion of which will make her an official Master of Wine (MW). We are thrilled to have this salesperson-extraordinaire taking the Volio reins within the Northeast.
Marketing and Operations Associate
Steve comes to Volio with retail and vineyard experience after working a harvest in the winery at Rippon Vineyard & Winery in Wanaka, New Zealand and at Domaine Lucien Jacob in Burgundy, France. He asserts that Rippon is one of his favorite places on Earth, but Burgundy is pretty special, too. Steve studied geology at university and loves learning about the different terroirs around the world – he could talk about rocks, soils, climate, etc. for days.
After completing an internship with Volio this past summer, Steve is now based in Bordeaux, France where he is earning an MBA in Wine Management and Marketing. He is continuing to work for Volio in the Marketing and Operations department during this time.
Steve aims to follow this advice from his trusted friend and former boss, Nick Mills – winemaker at Rippon, “…keep your head in the books, but your hands and heart in the dirt. That way you’ll be welcome wherever you go.”
Regional Sales Director
Bio coming soon!