Che Dona Luce: Limoncello from the City of Light

WATT is always on the lookout for unusual concepts and ideas that deserve a bigger stage. This time we meet Harrie Vet and Nick van den Nieuwenhof of Che Dona Luce.

Who are you and what do you do?
We are Harrie Vet (34) and Nick van den Nieuwenhof (25), born and raised in Eindhoven. And we both still live in the City of Light. Nick has his own painting business and Harrie works as a field sales Account Manager for MCB Netherlands. We have a passion for Italy and for the Burgundian way of life. Sport is also important to us. Nick plays football at the VV Acht football club and Harrie does crossfit and fitness at Sparck sports club.

When did you know: ‘we’re going to make limoncello?’
We were eating at Antonio’s in Eindhoven once. We were really enjoying the food. Over our second limoncello with coffee, the idea of making this kind of drink together came up. It took several months before we started because we didn’t have the right recipe yet. In the summer of 2020, Harry was on holiday in Tuscany with his girlfriend and ran across the original Italian recipe. He loaded up the car with lemons and alcohol and we started trial runs in Eindhoven.

What was the biggest challenge during the whole development process?
Keeping the quality consistent and finding the perfect organic lemons. Making limoncello is a fairly simple process on paper, but in our first 3 years, we still had to learn a lot of new things. Now we know exactly what we are doing and we have full control over quality. Especially in the first year, we learnt a lot, also thanks to our partner Philips Fruittuin. Fruit experts we can build something on.

Can you taste a little Eindhoven in your limoncello?
Nice question! Limoncello Che Dona Luce means limoncello that gives light. If you light up the freezer, you’ll see our bottle with it’s light bulb, with limoncello made from lemons from Philips Fruittuin. Then you’ll definitely taste the City of Light.

Who or what inspires you as an entrepreneur?
The entrepreneurial atmosphere around us. Several of our friends are entrepreneurs. One of them has the largest suitcase shop in the Netherlands, another helps people find the perfect orthopaedic shoes, and another one converts vans into fantastic motor homes. We also speak a lot with Carlos Faes of Philips Fruittuin. We can really talk with him about all kinds of ideas and visions. He also has a great business with an orchard, pancake house, farm shop and event spaces.

What important lesson did you learn as an entrepreneur?
If you believe in something, it will eventually become a reality. Visualising that dot on the horizon is a lesson everyone should be allowed to learn. We also see problems as opportunities for learning and growth. We have learnt not to be afraid of problems, but to look for solutions instead. We’re getting more and more creative.

What would you like to say to start-up entrepreneurs?
Stay true to your instincts when it comes to making choices and avoid looking at others too much. If you can’t figure something out, see if your network can help you further! Oh yes, and if you get stuck, drink an ice-cold limoncello.

What’s on Che Dona Luce’s bucket list?
Our own lemon orchard in Sicily or the Amalfi coast. Including a country house and guest house, so friends and family can enjoy Italy and make delicious limoncello with us. And drink it, of course.

Where will Che Dona Luce be in five years?
By then, we’ll be conquering the world as the largest limoncello maker in the Netherlands, with products like our brilliant limoncello. Our range will also have expanded by then to include several flavours.

In conclusion, why should the Italians taste Che Dona Luce?
We won the gold medal with our limoncello at the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) in London in early 2023. Beau van Erven Dorens thought it was delicious and drank it live on his show. That’s reason enough to offer it to Italians, right?

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