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 in less than a year. 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 for all non-Empire distributor partners 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.
Regional Sales Director
James Moll is Volio’s #1 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.
Francesco Lippini is Volio’s Italian insider. From his office in Florence, Francesco assists with communication between our logistics partners and wineries related to orders, provides graphic design capabilities for innovative programs with customers, along with organization of client visits abroad. He’s an Italian gent who graciously and eloquently steps in when we need boots on the ground in our European markets. He also makes the Denver team jealous as he Skypes us from gardens in Florence.