Viticultural zones are not the same the world over – differences can be found from the structure and dimensions of the wineries, to the production methods, and to the very nature of the people involved.
For this reason, we will briefly try to explain the characteristics of our cellars and of the local winemakers, some of whom are, at the same time, farmers and entrepreneurs.
HISTORICALLY SMALL PROPERTIES
The agricultural structure here has always been based on small properties with extraordinarily independent ownership, unlike many other wine-producing areas where big estates and sharecropping used to be the norm. This has resulted in local vine-growers having a great sense of individualism and autonomy, governed by a historical sense of responsibility towards the community at large. About seventy percent of single properties in Piedmont are extremely reduced parcels of land that usually extend between 1 and 10 hectares. The Dogliani area is clear proof of this.
FAMILY-OWNED AND RUN WINERIES
The social fabric typical of this craft is formed by many small family-owned wineries in which all the phases of vine-growing and wine-making are carried out by family members. Being so intimately involved in the entire process from grape to glass, means that their own passion and their personalities are easily expressed through their wine. Furthermore, the fact that they share the work amongst themselves while having a single common goal and being able to make difficult choices when faced with adversity, makes them more flexible than larger companies and allows them to better concentrate their efforts on quality. They are the custodians of the land, its cultural heritage and its fortune, and their profits cannot be disassociated from their personal identities or from the identity of the land on which they live, and live for.
A CHANGING PROFESSION
Today’s winemaker finds himself acting as a mediator between the ancient traditional craft of hillside viticulture and the newer entrepreneurial expertise required to run a modern winery. It is a profession that covers many roles: more often than not it is the same person who tends to the vineyards, works in the cellar, keeps up with never-ending bureaucracy; promotes the winery and the wines by travelling around the world; keeps track of sales and of the network of representatives, agents and importers; and, finally, welcomes visitors and tourists who come to buy or taste wine on the weekends. This is a fairly recent situation that has created the need for these wine-makers to develop a set of very diverse skills, often with little or no help from past generations.