Kathy LaTour, an associate professor of services marketing, is the School of Hotel Administration’s new Banfi Vintners Professor of Wine Education and Management. Her appointment took effect on July 1.
LaTour came to Cornell as a visiting associate professor from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2012 and joined the SHA faculty the following year. Her research examines the ways in which marketing messages influence consumers’ perceptions and memory of hedonic experiences, with a particular focus on wine and gambling. She teaches several marketing courses, including a case-based class she developed at Cornell, Wine Marketing. Additionally, she is developing a course called Luxury Marketing for students pursuing jobs in the wine industry.
LaTour has achieved a variety of wine certifications, including rank as a Certified Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers. She is currently studying for Master of Wine certification from the Institute of Masters of Wine and pursuing certification in Italian wine from the Wine Scholar Guild.
“Kathy is an outstanding researcher with the expertise needed to excel as our Banfi Professor,” said Kate Walsh, interim dean of SHA and E. M. Statler Professor. “She is a highly regarded scholar, and both a proven and passionate wine professional. I look forward to her continued contributions to our school.”
LaTour is the third faculty member to hold the Banfi Vintners Professorship, which was established in 1982 with an endowment from the Banfi Vintners Foundation. The chair was first held by Vance Christian ’61, MS ’65 and then by Stephen Mutkoski ’67, PhD ’76.
“I am very honored to follow two teaching legends in holding the Banfi Vintners Professorship,” said LaTour. “I highly respect the impact that the Mariani family has had on the wine industry, and look forward to working with them in the future to help educate students in the Cornell community.”
The Mariani family, founders and proprietors of leading U.S. importer Banfi Vintners and the renowned Castello Banfi vineyard estate in Montalcino, Tuscany, has a long and distinguished history with Cornell.
Banfi’s chairman emeritus, John F. Mariani, Jr., is a Presidential Councillor and a life member of the Cornell University Council. He also is a former member of the Cornell Board of Trustees, SHA Dean’s Advisory Board, and Johnson Graduate School of Management Advisory Council and an honorary member of the Cornell Hotel Society. Mariani’s brother, Harry, was president emeritus of Banfi before his passing in January 2016. Their sister, Joan, the first member of her generation to join the family business started by their father, graduated from Cornell in 1951.
John Mariani’s daughter, Cristina Mariani-May, and Harry Mariani’s son, James Mariani, MBA ’91, are the company’s current co-CEOs. Harry Mariani’s daughter, Virginia Mariani-Kitt ’82, Banfi’s director of hospitality, is a member of the SHA Dean’s Advisory Board and served two terms on the Cornell University Council.
“We have always had a philosophy of giving back, particularly in education – it’s something that’s been instilled in us for three generations as a family business,” said Cristina Mariani-May, co-CEO of Banfi Vintners. “We are so pleased to see Ms. LaTour take the baton and continue a tradition at Cornell that we’ve been proud to support for four decades.”
Along with the Banfi Vintners Professorship in Wine Education and Management, Banfi has endowed numerous scholarships, including the Castello Banfi Scholarship and the Friends of the Cornell Hotel Society European Region Banfi Scholarship. The company provided the naming gift for the Statler Hotel’s Taverna Banfi and supported its renovation. Additionally, it has funded study and travel grants for students, the Beck Center, and the reception area, wine library, and office in the Vance Christian Beverage Management Center.