Senior Takes Life’s Lemons and Makes a Business


Evan Manafort, GSB ‘20 grows his own lemons to make limencello. (Courtesy of Trey Dugan)

Trey Dugan, Business Director

Family tradition is rooted in various aspects of our lives, whether it be holiday customs, customary recipes or historical events your family has endured. For Evan Manafort, GSB ’20, his family has both influenced his personality and introduced him to countless Italian traditions that have accompanied his family for generations.

In particular, Manafort has taken a keen interest in one of these family traditions, the process of making limoncello.

Limoncello is an Italian lemon liquor produced in Southern regions of the country, including Reggio Calabria, where the family originates. For Manafort, his exposure to limoncello began as a way to spend time with his family, which he describes as “the most important thing to him.”

His nonno, or grandfather, took a leading role in teaching both Manafort and his siblings the process behind this craft. As Manafort grew older, however, the production of the liquor took a more important role in his family dynamic.

The Manaforts’ commit a “wine day” each October to the creation of limoncello and in celebration of last year’s product. While the process is extensive and complicated, which consists of the blending of lemons, vodka and sugar water over the course of two weeks, it makes the final product even more special. During a family trip to Italy, Manafort visited his relatives’ massive gardens, including many Sorrento lemon trees, the primary ingredient used in the creation of limoncello.

He flirted with the idea of bringing some of these lemon trees back to his summer home in Old Lyme, Conn. and producing this drink on his own. When his grandparents surprised him with a lemon tree for his birthday, he was able to begin the process.

After four years of waiting for the tree to sprout, Manafort was finally able to create the first batch of his own limoncello. He then began to realize the potential behind his craft. Not only were the lemons his tree was producing delicious, but the demand for his drink was rapidly increasing.

As the reputation behind Manafort’s Limoncello grew, he began to tease the idea of building a business. With the help of his nonno and uncle, Manafort began to market his product and create his brand, Evancello.

Although Evancello is in the beginning stages of development, Manafort has entertained various business deals with wineries and bottling companies. He recently met with Salvatore Ferragamo Jr., a member of the prominent Ferragamo fashion family and an owner of a winery, il Borro, located in Tuscany Italy. Manafort hopes to continue to grow this relationship and facilitate an official partnership down the line.

In addition, Manafort has set up both a website ( and an Instagram (@evancello) to expand his network and to provide additional information to those who seek it. Going forward, Manafort has high hopes for his brand despite his hectic schedule.

With the backing of his family and friends, he hopes to create Evancello into a fully functional business once his internship and commitments to the Fordham community are completed. He wants to extend his thanks to everyone who has supported him throughout this process and continue to support him going forward.

For other students interested in starting a business, Manafort recommends “try[ing] new things and to not be afraid of the judgment of their peers or failure.” He emphasizes the fact that “the cost of failure in college is basically zero.”

“Start something new,” he says. “Bounce ideas off your friends. Talk to people. Share perspectives. Go out into NYC an explore. It’s an amazing microcosm for the world and great for generating business ideas.”