A picture of pugnacious Italian winemaker Fulvio Bressan, who’s facing a boycott over a series of racist Facebook posts. (Facebook)
The normally placid world of Italian oenology is having a Paula Deen moment.
On Aug. 22, sixth-generation Italian winemaker Fulvio Bressan sparked a firestorm when he posted inflammatory, racially charged remarks to Facebook about Cecile Kyenge, who became Italy’s first-ever black government minister when she assumed the post of Integration Minister in April.
Though Kyenge, an outspoken advocate of looser immigration laws, has been a frequent target of racist public incidents in recent months, Bressan’s note was particularly abusive.
An English translation of Bressan’s note, courtesy of HuffPost Italy’s Giulia Belardelli:
hey, dirty Black MONKEY, I DON’T PAY TAXES to lodge your GORILLA friends at a HOTEL. Please bring them to your place, where you can feel superior with your money … Oops … That money is not even yours: it’s the money Italians give you … You’re a s***ty black gold-digger.
In response, some wine merchants and writers — even those previously fans of Bressard and his acclaimed, 400-year-old vineyard — have called for a boycott of his wine.
British restaurateur Jacob Kennedy went so far as to smash his stock of Bressard wine on the sidewalk in front of his London restaurant, Bocca di Lupo. Kennedy taped his protest and then posted the video on YouTube.
Yet the threat of economic ruin hasn’t caused Bressan to hold back in his tirades. In the weeks since his attack on Kyenge, he’s continued to post frequent screeds about minorities on his Facebook page. He writes, of course, in Italian; Belardelli summarized the gist of them:
He blames gypsies and immigrants for the Italians’ economic troubles, but he seems to be mad at everyone (starting with politicians). He is particularly aggressive towards Kyenge: he shared a combined photo of Kyenge and some people burnt to death with the sentence, “Look, this is what you do to Christians on your continent.”
In other posts he calls her “monkey,” and he often shares stories and articles about crimes committed by immigrants.
Looking beyond his own borders, Bressan also mentioned U.S. President Barack Obama in one of his vitriolic posts.
As of press time, bottles of Bressan wines were still available for sale on the websites of several different American merchants, mostly for upwards of $40 a bottle.