The Story of Volio


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Intrigue Sparked

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.

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Volio founded

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.

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June, 2017

About Us_Story_Volio Vino Distribution Sold

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.


Volio Imports 2.0

Since January, 2018, Volio Imports has seen dramatic growth, including the addition of eight 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.

About Us_Story_And beyond


Volio goes carbon neutral

Volio worked with to offset the company’s carbon emissions from 2019 onward. This quote from Charles explains the drive behind the project:

The wine industry is so deeply rooted in the environment that we feel it is our obligation to engage thoughtfully and impactfully in sustainability. As a wine importer, a lot of Volio’s business involves shipping large quantities of heavy wine across the world, which produces a significant volume of CO2. Partnering with will allow us to be carbon neutral as a business and to offset every bottle of wine that we bring across the Atlantic.” 

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Growth Across the U.S.

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Inc. 5000

Volio has grown to do business in 47 states, present in 90% of the U.S., working with 80+ distributors across the country. In 2018, Volio was named in the Inc. 5000 as the No. 3663 fastest-growing private company in the U.S., and in 2023 climbed to No. 3,045, coming in at No. 71 in Denver and No. 87 in Food & Beverage (as of August 2023).

Volio Today


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.

The Team

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Charles Lazzara

CEO & Founder

Charles Lazzara started Volio Imports in 2007, at the age of 25, with modest intentions of promoting undiscovered, high quality wine producers from Italy back in Colorado. The sale of Volio Distribution in 2017 allowed Charles to dedicate his time and energy to Volio Imports’ strategic expansion to becoming a leading National Importer of Italian wines, as well as spend more time with his amazing wife (Angela), two young boys (Lorenzo and Tommaso), and daughter (Sofia). As the Founder & CEO of Volio, Charles is always out networking with customers, wholesalers, and engaging Volio’s 30+ wineries throughout Italy.

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Elisa Ballard

Vice President of Operations

Elisa is no stranger to global engagement. After spending her childhood visiting family in Italy, studying abroad for a semester in Bologna, and working for the European Union at Milan’s World Fair, Expo 2015, it seemed only natural to pursue a career in Italian wine. And it doesn’t hurt that she has dual citizenship, speaks fluent Italian, and spends as much time as possible at her house just north of Rome. Prior to Volio, Elisa worked for MISA Imports, an importer and distributor in Dallas, TX as their Marketing and Sales Support Director. This role built on her background in international marketing and media consulting while exposing her to the world of international wine sourcing and bespoke programming. At Volio, Elisa works across departments and across borders, investing heavily in producer relationships, leading product innovation, and managing strategic national sales opportunities. Joining Volio also allowed Elisa to realize her dream of returning to the beautiful state of CO, where she received an MBA in Marketing and Finance and BA in Management and Economics from the University of Denver. She is the perfect addition to our Denver-based Volio clan: mountain-lover, Italian connoisseur, and proud dog mama of a German Shepherd Husky mix pup, Dakota.

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Blake Eve

Director of Marketing

If Volio were a rock band, Blake would be the badass, über-cool, poker-faced bassist keeping everyone grooving steady. As Director of Marketing, 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 five 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).

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Giovanna Mazzotta

Product Development Manager

Giovanna yet again grew Volio’s contingent of brilliant Italians when she joined the team as a marketing and operations intern in June, 2021. Giovanna is a native of Vicenza, Italy and moved to the United States in 2017. Like many Italians, she grew up surrounded by history, art, and, of course, wine. Before moving to the US, Giovanna worked in event planning and tourism. Driven by her passion for the wine world, she earned a WSET Level 3 Award in Wines while living in Washington, D.C. and has been working in the wine industry since. From working as a sales consultant to planning corporate staff trainings and wine dinners, Giovanna has always taken pleasure in sharing the rich culture and traditions behind every bottle. And she continues to grow her toolbox of skills as she pursues a degree in business and marketing…so she basically embodies the word “multifaceted.” When she’s not working or studying, Giovanna loves traveling with her husband, lifting weights, baking, and taking too many pictures of her cat.

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Natalie Newman

Sales Operations Manager

After realizing her passion for wine while studying at Apicius International School of Hospitality in Florence, Italy, Natalie devoted as much time and as many resources as possible to immersing herself in the world of wine. In 2015, she graduated with her BA in Hospitality Business Management from Washington State University. Through working in hotels, restaurants, and wine and spirits distributors, Natalie has additionally achieved the accolades of Certified Sommelier, Certified Specialist of Wine, and French Wine Scholar. After spending five years working as a Sales Representative and Sales Manager for Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits in Austin, Natalie relocated to Denver. Joining Volio Imports will fulfill her longtime dream of working for a wine importer. While not scheming ways to maximize efficiencies and streamline processes, Natalie is obsessive about seeing her friends, skiing, playing pickleball, hosting parties, and, of course, drinking wine.

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Emily McDonough

Brand Manager

Emily is a brand champion and storyteller who loves bringing the “why” behind a product or company to life and sharing it with others. She approaches her work, and life in general, with intentionality (and sometimes sarcasm to spice up the situation) — from building meaningful relationships with partners to amplifying project details, big or small. With both sides of her brain always having something to say, she’s constantly striving to raise the bar with creative, data-driven strategies. Emily spent the early years of her career in the food delivery space, most recently working as the Brand Manager for Nextbite where she oversaw all brand, marketing, and creative initiatives to strengthen her portfolio of restaurants. During her time at Nextbite she earned their Adaptability Award, which is given to an employee who manages well in an environment of ambiguity. With an immense passion for fine wine, she is excited to shift into the beverage side as Volio’s Brand Manager where she will champion the voice and growth of Volio’s portfolio of brands across the US. After all, there’s nothing like having someone in your corner. When she’s not driving brand growth, she also likes to run, explore new restaurants, and soak up the Denver sun.

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Leanne Enos

Order Processing Coordinator

Leanne grew up in Salinas, CA, the salad bowl of the world and close to the wonderful Santa Lucia Highlands wine region. At an early age she developed an appreciation for growing your own food. Leanne got her Communications degree at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and during a study abroad in Barcelona, Spain, she discovered wine — the way it tells a story about where it is grown and made. After a job in ad sales, she realized her heart was elsewhere, and in 2013 began working for a small, family-owned winery in Edna Valley, CA. Working in the tasting room and telling stories about the vineyards encouraged her to learn more. She passed the Certified Sommelier exam in 2015 while working at a wine and cheese shop. Her curiosity about the winemaking process sent her to Barossa Valley, South Australia, to work the 2016 wine harvest as a Cellar Hand. Returning to the US, Leanne became an Assistant Wine Buyer at JJ Buckley, eventually working her way to Logistics Manager. Currently, Leanne is studying for the ASCM Certified Supply Chain Professional exam to deepen her knowledge of supply chain management. She is excited to bring her passion for wine and knowledge of logistics and supply chain to Volio as the Order Processing Coordinator. When she isn’t studying about supply chain or enjoying a glass of wine, Leanne likes to spend time cooking, gardening, and exploring the outdoors with her husband, son, and two chocolate labs.

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Josh Chambers

Logistics and Compliance Coordinator

Josh was born and raised in Bendigo, Australia, in the heart of the central Victorian winegrowing region. His first job was working for his Italian neighbors at their local deli and café, learning about Italian food, wine, and culture from a young age. Working yearly harvests at various local wineries and watching the transformation from vine to bottle enthralled Josh and lead to many years in the hospitality business both in Bendigo and later, Melbourne, focusing on restaurant/front house management with a studied emphasis on wine. In 2005, Josh moved to Telluride, a remote Colorado ski town, where he worked the ski season at their Italian restaurants. With award-winning, 100% Italian wine lists, he furthered his knowledge of Italian food, wine, and service. From there he transitioned into a role with Tellitalia Imports, which led him through 17 years of importing and selling Italian wine to Colorado, many parts of the USA, and Bermuda. It was in this role that Josh first came into contact with Volio Vino Distributing and soon began distributing wines in Colorado through Volio. During this period, Josh travelled extensively throughout Italy visiting producers from Sardinia to Sicily, walking the vineyards, tasting in the cellars, being present for harvest, breaking bread with the multi-generational families behind the wines, and sharing this experience with others. Josh and his wife now live in Abilene, Texas, with their two boys where they love enjoying the outdoors and hosting lengthy wine dinners.

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James Moll

Vice President, National Sales

James Moll’s stellar reputation in the wine business is built upon decades of experience with some of the most successful wine companies in the world. His unique, multi-dimensional understanding of the wine industry is born from a career which includes corporate fine wine buying, sales management, wine distribution, and importing. Through a broad range of leadership positions he has grown a deep network of colleagues and contacts across the country — not to mention, his good humor and humility make him a great dinner date. If you ask those who know James well, it’s his passion for growing relationships that sets him apart. James lives in Dallas, TX, managing eight states in the Southwest and Central regions of the US. Previous to this role, he led operations and sales teams in six states for Taub Family Selections (TFS), a division of Palm Bay International. He’s a proud, lifelong Texan, who loves football Saturdays, foodventures, and his cowboy boots that match any Barolo or Brunello.

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Jason Blanford

Regional Sales Director, Midwest

While studying Classical Civilizations in Italy, Jason took his first sips of Brachetto and Brunello on the same day and instantly fell in love with the unique diversity the wine world provides. He didn’t know it at the time but recreating and sharing that experience would soon become his life’s mission. A few years later, Jason’s thirst for knowledge and education took him “down under” to Adelaide, South Australia, where he received his Master’s in Wine Marketing. In 2012, he joined the team at Pasternak Wine Imports, the U.S. sales and marketing company for Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), driving sales in the midwest region as well as the National Account On-Premise universe. Most recently, Jason led the Central Division team at Taub Family Selections, managing sales and operations across 13 states. At Volio, he will be heading up Volio sales in the Midwest, based in the broader Chicago market. When he isn’t crushing boxes and swirling glasses, Jason enjoys the futility of golf and exploring the outdoors with his family.

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David Metz

Regional Sales Director, Southeast

Originally hailing from Dallas, Texas, David lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with 16 years of experience working in fine wine. For six years he managed the fine wine retail team for Empire Distributors in the Atlanta metro area. Prior to that, he worked at a number of fine wine retail accounts throughout the city, doing everything from Wine Consultant and Management to being a Wine Director and Consumption Specialist. With his CSW and WSET Diploma, David went as far as Stage 2 of the Masters of Wine program. David is pumped to join Volio’s team as the Regional Sales Director for the Southeast region. When he’s not drinking wine, he enjoys travel, hiking, camping, and can often be found with a fly rod.

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Dino Marone

CA Sales Director

Born in Florence, Italy in 1968 (a very happening time to enter the world!) he started in restaurant and hospitality at 18 with a deep passion for food and wine, inherited from his grandparents and parents. After 13 years of numerous hotel, restaurant, cruise ship, and private residence positions, he opened both a restaurant in the Chianti area of Tuscany and a wine bar in Florence’s historic district. In 2005, Dino made his move to the US, landing in California to discover the very-different American food and wine business. Through it all, he achieved his Silver Pin Sommelier Certification with NASA/WSA with the distinction of finishing first in his class. He quickly followed that with a Certified Sommelier certification in the Court of Master Sommeliers and was hired as wine director at Nerano in Beverly Hills in 2018. The following year, Dino started a new wine journey with Strategic Group in the role of Wine Specialist. In a perfect continuation of this Italy-US fusion wine career, Dino joined Volio as their Regional Sales Director in California in June, 2021.

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Sarah Newman

Regional Sales Director, Mid-Atlantic

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, and upon completion she plans to become a Master of Wine (MW) candidate. We are thrilled to have this salesperson-extraordinaire taking the Volio reins within the Southeast.

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Pierluigi Gaeta

Florida Sales Director

Pierluigi was born and raised in Salerno, Italy, in the Campania region. He grew up in the restaurant and hospitality business. After graduating from hospitality school in Italy, he became a member of the Maitre d’Hotel association in Naples. Pierluigi worked with cruise lines for several years, traveling around the globe, and eventually transitioned to working in Florida with theme Parks and several high-profile restaurants, including celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse. His career in the wine business started in 2001, after receiving the Sommelier certification from the Court of Master Sommelier. He has continued to work in the industry with other leading Italian wine importers, such as Winebow, Vias Imports, and Taub Family Selections. With 25+ years of experience in Florida, Pierluigi is excited to start this next chapter as Volio’s Regional Sales Director, North Florida.

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Lauren Holbrook

Regional Sales Director, Southwest

With a love for the rhythm of fine dining service — the attention to detail, the teamwork, and creating a memorable experience for guests with food and wine — Lauren has worked in the restaurant industry for 20 years. She worked at Paggi House and Jeffrey’s in Austin, two fine dining establishments known for their stellar wine programs, cuisine, and service. From there, she transitioned into distribution, where she spent almost eight years learning about the business behind wine and how wine traveled from its birthplace to that table in a restaurant. According to Lauren, distributors are ground-level executors; the epitome of the middleman, being pulled in all different directions for a never-ending service. Now, she is beyond excited to learn the third tier of the wine business! With an appreciation for wine spanning that of the world, she often gets asked about her ‘favorite’ wine, to which she replies she doesn’t really have one, but she can never get enough Italian wine! Thus, representing an Italian-heavy portfolio is the perfect trajectory for Lauren as she takes on the role of Regional Sales Director for Volio’s Southwest region. Lauren is also mother to two amazing humans (Vicenzo & Maru) and one furry baby (Koa), and you may one day see her living out her cycling dreams of riding the Continental Divide Trail and the length of Chile.

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Carlotta Smith

Area Sales Manager, Florida

Carlotta was born and raised in Napoli, Italy, but has lived in Miami for the last 12 years. It was supposed to be a temporary decision, but the Sunshine State persuaded her to stay. She is a Communications graduate with a minor in Hospitality and a focus in Wine and Spirits, but most of all, a lover of the wine industry. Carlotta grew up in the wine and spirits world with a mom who has owned a liquor store in the heart of South Beach for the past ten years. Having a family-owned business has allowed her to wear many hats. Throughout the years, she shared a wide range of responsibilities, including selling, buying, tasting, researching, restocking, delivering, events, social media, and customer service… a lot of customer service. Carlotta obtained both WSET level 1 and level 2 certificates. She is excited to bring her love of wine to Volio as their Area Sales Manager, FL. Speaking three languages (English, Italian, and Spanish), you can often find Carlotta by the ocean, enjoying time in the sun, and caring for her two very adorable English bulldogs.

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Leonardo Pisani

Area Sales Manager, Texas

Leonardo Pisani is a native Italian who immigrated to Texas in 2007 in hopes of achieving the American dream and sharing his passion for food and wine. He has worked in the wine industry for more than 15 years and used to and harvest grapes for wine on his family’s land; he still believes nothing pairs better with ‘everything’ than his family’s wine. Leo owned a restaurant in Le Cinque Terre before moving to the US. Once here, he ran the wine programs and managed Italian restaurants and a hotel for Deloitte University. Later, he focused solely on wine sales with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. In 2015, he began working on an Italian portfolio with Vinifera, an over 30-year-old company that specializes in fine Italian wines. In 2018, he shifted into a role as an Italian specialist for North Texas with Serendipity Wines. It is clear that Leo’s passion for selling Italian wines runs deep — it’s been rumored his veins flow with more Italian red wine than blood.

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Alessandro Malpassi

Regional Sales Director, Northeast

Alessandro was born and raised in the city of Rimini, located in the region of Emilia-Romagna in Northeast Italy. His passion for wine began in his early twenties when he decided to enroll in two sommelier classes. With professional experiences both in Italy and other parts of Europe, he made the biggest decision of his life and moved to the U.S., where he worked in a multitude of cities, including LA, Miami, New York, Atlanta, and Boston. After more than 25 years of experience in the restaurant business he was given the opportunity to further his passion and knowledge by representing and managing a fine wine Italian portfolio with Ethica Wines where he covered nine different states. Five years later, the next step in his career led him to another great Italian Importer, Volio Imports. As a great communicator and team player with a wealth of experience and relationships throughout the Northeast, Alessandro is ready to establish Volio brands in a significant way. He is looking forward to being an important player for this amazing team as the Regional Sales Director for the Northeast.