Meet Consuelo Martinez - Quattrocchi of Villa Graziella Organic

tell us about your products. where they are made. who makes them. favorite product features.

We are partners in a certified organic 49 acre vineyard & certified organic 15 acre olive grove located in Montespertoli, (Tuscany) Italy. Enjoying clean, delicious food & wine without compromising one’s health or well-being is one of life’s pleasures. We offer the best of Made in Italy. Our products are from 12th century organic farmer & wine making family of Luca Nesi. The Nesi family is dedicated to growing, harvesting & producing only sustainable, certified organic products. They craft with pride as their ancestors did starting in the late 1700's. These are products you pack in your suitcase when on holiday or vacation to savor once at home. So delightful they transport you back to Italy. Single estate extra virgin, Tuscan olive oil & artisan crafted single estate wines made with organic grapes. Authentic, clean, food friendly & meant for everyday enjoyment!

tell us about your connection to Chicago. your neighborhood.

Born & raised north side Chicago. Worked in West Loop 12 years Our wine distributor Tenzing is in the West Loop. Contributor to & partner with Chicago Woman magazine since 2016

what do you love about your business, your industry.

That U.S. consumers understand they can enjoy delicious food & wine without compromising their health. That organic, sustainable food & wine is available in the U.S. and that today's consumers are demanding accountability from food companies, our elected officials & government. I enjoy this industry as it is constantly evolving & dedicated to offering clean, authentic food to people at a fair price.

tell us about your inspiration - space, smells, colors, textures.

Our inspiration comes from the talented Nesi family who works very hard to offer clean food & wine. They are authentic, their estate is a year round working farm. There is no gift shop, no tasting room or villa rental. They are not gentleman, weekend farmers but true artisans.The colors, the light, the food & most importantly Luca, his family & relatives inspire us!

what advice do you have for other creative entrepreneurs?

Consider your business a marathon, not a sprint & take 1 step at a time.

share a favorite quote, a mantra.

Italian proverb-"The earth is generous to those who are committed to it"

surprise us with your secret talent, fact, etc.

I left corporate America to become an entrepreneur at 54 years old. What took me so long to do this??

what's the most common question you get about your business?

What makes your products organic?

tell us about your process for making + creating.

Our organic process is quite detailed; our wines & olive oil start with the clean soil. Since 1997, our vineyard is free of chemical fertilizers, synthetic insecticides or herbicides. It was organic certified after 16 consecutive seasons (4 years) with soil testing & verification before permission to plant any grapes. 1. In early spring, beet root, broad bean, clover, horse radish, lentil, mustard, rye grass & sweet pea seedlings are planted in between the rows of the vines. 2. Mineral & nutrient rich, the cover crops grow between the vine rows to fortify & regulate the soil. 3. As they grow, they attract beneficial animals; bats, birds & spiders, the crops provide food & shelter to these animals & insects who in turn feed off of predatory animals, insects & mites. 4. Replace the need for chemical insecticides or synthetic pesticides. Each vine or canopy is pruned individually, we also do dry framing, w/irrigation is only via rainfall. In the fall the cover crops are cleared before harvest. They are dried out & used as compost with cow & sheep manure A robust eco-system it produces healthy fruit, without leaving chemical or synthetic residue in the soil. Even though it is labor intensive, the bio-diversity contributes to the vineyard’s long-term sustainability & the environment’s well-being. We re-apply for certification every year with each wine varietal. This is a true labor of love!!

name 3 local makers/brands that inspire you and why.

1. Rosa Hanslits-Founder & owner of Nicole Taylor Pasta & Market in Broad Ripple, Indiana. Rosa makes authentic Italian pasta, cheeses, sausage & bread for her restaurant & retail clients. She has a wonderful food shop which brings joy to many. She is not the biggest but is happy & very successful with her retail, catering & wholesale business. 2. Chef Katie O'Reilly inspires me as she creates delicious clean food that is healthy & beautifully presented. 3. Carrie Nahabedian whose restaurant NAHA achieved a Michelin star when there were very few women chefs in Chicago. She is down to earth & unpretentious.

what is the best advice you've ever been given and how has it shaped you and your business?

Follow your passion, work hard, be honest & stick with it. The returns will come.

what's so special about your olive oil?

Our olive oil is single estate-the olives come form our farm not 3rd parties. Not diluted with any seed oils like canola or sunflower oil. Clean, delicious & truly Tuscan, you can bake, cook, grill, sauté all kinds of food in addition to dipping, drizzling and finishing. We are offering 20% off for Covet Market shoppers.

Connect with Villa Graziella

Facebook @villagraziellaorganic

Instagram: @villagraziellaorganic

Twitter: @VillaGrazOrg

Pinterest: @villagrazorg

Jessica Cohen