ITHACA, NY—The Cornell University School of Hotel Administration has selected the Mariani family, founders and proprietors of U.S. importer Banfi Vintners and the Castello Banfi vineyard estate in Montalcino, Tuscany, to receive the 2014 Cornell Icon of the Industry Award.
This award recognizes Mariani family members for their achievements in business and support of hospitality education. The family will receive the award at the 6th annual Cornell Hospitality Icon & Innovator Awards gala at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City on June 3, 2014.
Founded in 1919 by the late John Mariani, Sr., Banfi is led today by the third generation of family management. At the gala, Dr. John F. Mariani ’54, chairman emeritus; Harry F. Mariani, president emeritus; James Mariani MBA ’91 and Cristina Mariani-May, co-CEOs; and Virginia Mariani-Kitt ’82, director of hospitality, will be honored.
John Mariani graduated from Cornell in 1954 and spent the following two years studying viniculture in Europe. On returning to the U.S., he pursued graduate work at New York University and joined his father in the family business. They were later joined by John’s younger brother, Harry Mariani, following his graduation from Colgate University.
John and Harry assumed control of the company in 1964 and expanded Banfi, founded two vineyard estates in Italy and established the Banfi Foundation, which has supported Catholic Relief Services, endowed select charities and universities around the world and sponsored annual scholastic tours to study the food and wine culture of Italy.
James Mariani officially joined the family business in 1991. He has traveled extensively across the U.S. and Canada, conducting seminars, university lectures and wine maker dinners. Assuming responsibilities in sales and marketing, he also holds a B.A. from Colgate University and an MBA from Cornell University.
Cristina Mariani-May joined Banfi in 1993. Since then, she has introduced many initiatives, including the creation of new tracking and monitoring systems at Castello Banfi, designed to elevate performance and establish new goals in the fields of customer satisfaction, environmental responsibility, and social responsibility. She earned degrees from Georgetown University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.
Virginia Mariani-Kitt joined Banfi’s public relations department in 1982 before transitioning into the national sales division, where she developed Banfi’s presence in hotels and restaurants across the United States. She subsequently served as marketing manager for the premier wines of Castello Banfi and, in 1993, assumed her current role as hospitality director. She is a graduate of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.