David Noto was born in New York City, and grew up in New York, Puerto Rico, Ireland, France and Italy. Before high school, his parents settled in NY, where he attended Chaminade High School, in Mineola. David majored in mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he raced on their ski team and spent late nights in their computer labs.
In his past life, David was a published mechanical engineer, an award-winning website designer, a management consultant (at Ernst & Young, Cap Gemini & Accenture) and a seasoned finance technology manager (at Citi Alternative Investments & Citi Capital Advisors). And during his consulting years, David took time off from corporate life to do a three-year stint as the Executive Director of GRI, an association of the best Italian restaurants in the U.S., and as the Vice President of the Federation of Italian Chefs.
During his last job at Citi Capital Advisors, David attended Columbia Business School for his MBA, during which time, he chose a different path altogether and founded Altaneve in 2013, which he positioned to be one of the world’s best Italian sparkling wine companies. With over 10 generations of winemakers in his lineage, David now heads Altaneve (www.Altaneve.com), which produces ultra-premium DOCG Prosecco, and an ultra-premium Sparkling Rosé .
David currently divides his time between New York City and northern Italy (Genova, Padova and Valdobbiadene).
1. If you could meet anyone in the world, who do you want to meet? And why?
Richard Branson – I would love to have some kind of insight into his entrepreneurial vision, as he has started many companies in diverse sectors and been successful at it. He also appears to be dynamic and eccentric, and I think we’d get along great.
2. When and how did you first realize that you wanted to work in the industry and business you are in?
After successful and diverse careers in engineering, management consulting, non-profit and finance technology, I went for my MBA in 2009. I had no intentions of starting a wine company after graduation, until a fellow student told me, “I really don’t see you in finance. I see you in hospitality. Maybe wine, yes, wine… start a wine company! You’ve been pushing Prosecco on all of us, so start a Prosecco company!” I slept on it, thought about it a little more, did research on the industry, and REVELATION, I was hooked on the idea! I HAD TO DO IT, so I did, and now we’re in business for 5 years.
3. Ever experienced a “life changing moment?”
Yes! Funny enough, that evening when my classmate said, “Why don’t you start a Prosecco company?” That moment completely changed my life! A light bulb came on at that instant, and I thought, “That’s a cool idea! That would be an amazing job! I can do that!”
4. Why didn’t you choose a 9-5 job? Why choose uncertainty over comfort?
As all white-collar workers know, all 9-5 jobs often require 10-12 hours per day. I have always thought of my job as getting the work done in a results-oriented way, so the clock never had much bearing on my workday at any point in my career.
5. How would you describe your personal style?
Having worked in a jacket and tie for the first 17 years of my career, I love to wear jeans and no tie – I would call it dressy casual, because I still wear a blazer, a button-down shirt and nice shoes.
6. Where do you find your style inspiration?
I still spend much of the year in northern Italy and find that my style inspiration often comes from there, as many of my clothes do as well.
Portrait of David Noto courtesy of photographer David DuPuy
7. Who is your favorite fashion designer, artist or architect – and why?
My favorite mens’ clothing has always come out of Italy – I can’t name a specific male designer, because there are similar styles throughout the years that repeat again and again with similar patterns and colors – not much invention in men’s clothing. Women’s clothing is a bit different with style and flair, and I can definitely say that I appreciate the dress designs of Valentino and Dior throughout their lifetimes and since.
8. Name your favorite… and tell us why:
- Outfit – Jeans and a blazer, because you can wear this anywhere and be fashionable.
- Movie – The Princess Bride, because it is a great escape from life and has all the things I like: action, comedy and romance.
- TV show – I am a car guy, so Miami Vice and The Dukes of Hazzard are still my favorites. My childhood favorite was Wacky Races with Penelope Pitstop, Dick Dastardly and Mutley.
- Book – Too many books… possibly What’s Bred in the Bone by Robertson Davies. The book makes you think about life, your place in it and how you might, unwittingly, be part of a different grand plan.
9. What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What is it you love about it and what is your favorite dish?
I have been to amazing restaurants all over the world, so this is a tall order to select only one, so I will mention the one that makes me smile every time I think about it: La Cantina at San Fruttuoso di Camogli (http://www.lacantinasanfruttuoso.it) – this restaurant is tiny, and it is located in an enchanting cove that you can only reach by ferry boat or a 1.5hr hike next to an old monastery between Portofino and Camogli on the Italian Riviera. Have their Pesto sauce and anything else they suggest, and it will be fantastic, and if the weather is warm, sit outside on their little beach overlooking the Mediterranean – magical and enchanting are the two words that come to mind.
10. Which three items can you not live without?
- Pesto sauce
11. Tell us something that people do not know about you.
I love to dance Salsa and took lessons when I lived in Italy for close to three years.
12. If you could give other entrepreneurs a word of advice, what would it be?
Do what interests you and make that your work. It will help you wake up every morning, and it will help stimulate you during every work day. Do it more for the passion and less for the money.
13. Is there anything else you would like to share, discuss or promote?
YES, I want to promote my wine – It’s life changing (well, it changed my life for sure)! The wine is all-natural, sustainable, vegan, with low sulfites and low sugar levels – this means you will NEVER get a headache or hangover from my wine!
And I wanted to get more people involved, so I am giving equity in my wine company away through a crowdfunding campaign for as little as $50. until April 30, 2018: Republic.co/altaneve
Images Courtesy of David Noto; Portrait by photographer David DuPuy.