It all started over 40 years ago when my father, a winemaking student, met my mother. But above all he met my grandfather Ilario, a great farmer.
At the time my grandfather owned just over a hectare of dessert wine near his home and. Like all farmers, sold his wine production in demijohns.
Once my dad finished his studies he started working in a distillery, helping my grandfather in the land and in the “cellar” in his spare time.
It was during those years that a baby boy called Luca, his sister Paola and a business named “the County” were born.
These children, here now to tell you this story, grew up with their maternal grandparents, since mum and dad were following an adventure that was far greater than their own dreams: every day, after finishing their daytime jobs, they would go down in the cellar to try and consolidate, day after day, their efforts and sacrifices.
These memories are still very much alive in our heads. The whole family would be busy bottling 200-300 bottles in one day, sticking labels by hand on each bottle. We would deliver on Saturdays to meet personally the few clients we had.
Nobody talked about foreign markets yet, even less so of e-commerce. Business was based on a handshake and a few phone calls.
But in the space of a few years the whole world underwent great radical changes. In the wine business everyone started targeting foreign markets and greatly increasing their sales.
In the evenings, over dinner, we used to wonder where we were going wrong, and why all our hard work and sacrifices to produce high quality wine weren’t paying off yet.
Then, suddenly, one day we received a phone call from an American importer looking to buy Prosecco, and surprisingly, he’d contacted us, too.
It was a cold and rainy day when the person in charge of finding “the best Prosecco around” arrived, and we were very, very tense. We were aware of the quality of our product but we also knew that our cellar, a basement just a little bigger than a garage, couldn’t compete with all the big wineries in the area. Our English wasn’t very good either, and we didn’t consider ourselves salesmen but simple producers.
Imagine our faces when we heard that we had been chosen amongst all the other producers!
Five years on, we have grown, we have made several mistakes but we have also learned a lot.
One thing hasn’t changed though: the desire to make great wines.
So while the Prosecco sales were increasing and reds were entering a crisis we played a wild card: we planted Merlot vines, typical of our area, always overlooked, and started producing huge amounts of grapes. The plan was to revalue the name of this grape.
We opted for tightly planted vineyards, extreme thinning out of the vines, harvesting very mature grapes and finally purchasing large barrels to keep the quality of our Merlot unaltered.
And here we are, after a family dinner, sitting in front of our PC, telling the tale of a family who was able to turn a dream into reality, and into a successful business.
grape grower and winemaker