Azienda Agricola Giovanetto, the company I’ve started in 2004, has a relatively recent history, but with solid roots in the past, since it was founded with the specific aim of continuing the viticulture activity in the rocky Piole region of the Montestrutto hamlet in the southernmost part of Settimo Vittone. This activity was in danger of disappearing after the premature death of my father Alberto, who – as a hobby – used to grow vineyards on the terraces belonging since generations to the Giovanetto and Ferragatti families (my great grandmother Felicina Ferragatti, “la Nina”, was a great winemaker). My father had increased the amount of terraces by buying, starting from the Eighties, vineyard lands adjacent to his own, destined to be abandoned. In 2003 he already owned about two hectares of terraced vineyards in the zone between 300 and 350 meters above sea level (the valley floor is at an altitude of 260 meters above sea level). The terracing and the various stone artefacts of the Piole region, similarly to the whole terraced area of Settimo Vittone and Carema, date back to the Middle Ages, but some ancient documents ascribe the local viticulture to the Roman period. Already in the first land register from the Napoleonic era (“Libro Campagnolo 1770”) there are some cadastral parcels, almost corresponding to the current ones, ascribed to the names Giovanetto and Ferragatti and to other owners, mostly from Nomaglio, a small village above the former municipality of Montestrutto.
When I inherited the vineyards from my father Alberto, I decided to continue his ambitious dream, but the extension of the vineyard was already so wide that the activity had to be done as a main job. I therefore formally set up the company, quitting my job as industry manager. Then I started making big investments for buying specific equipment for the winery and agricultural machinery, as well as for building up the infrastructures necessary to access the terraces even by small tractors and carrying tools.
My main goal is the cultivation of nebbiolo picotener as by ancient tradition: young plants are still planted by hand using a spade as in the past, directing the roots where there is more ground. In order to achieve high quality levels, I run the grapevines in a way that reduces a lot the production in terms of quantity of grapes (the yield is lower than 5000 kilograms/hectare). The summer work aiming to control adversities follows the rules of integrated pest management, minimizing the use of agrochemicals and avoiding at all the use of herbicides. The cut grass stays lying at the foot of the grapevines as fertilizer, along with the residues of the shredding after winter pruning.
I take particular care of the very old grapevines of neretto and vernassa which survived here and there, witnessing the cuts our ancestors used to make in the old times to nebbiolo, that not everybody used to turn into absolutely pure nebbiolo wine.
The summer management of vineyard lets me obtain healthy grapes that are later harvested and placed in boxes, so to be taken immediately to the winery, where – after a soft crushing and destemming – they are sent for fermentation at a controlled temperature. Maximum hygiene in the cellar and temperature control throughout the year let me pursue a better result.
Many years have passed since when the wine-making used to take place in the balmetti, typical cellars in the hamlet of San Germano in Borgofranco d’Ivrea, but aunt Silvia’s balmetto, dated 1836, still lives! Next to the old abandoned barrels there are durmast tonneaux, where nebbiolo ages. The temperature in the balmetto is the one of the mountain backwards, that stays below 15°C even in the middle of the summer: a great air conditioning system, natural and cost-free! The balmetto, the pride of the company, is a beautiful structure suitable for welcoming friends and clients and let them taste a glass of wine in silence and absolute peace in a unique village, entirely made of cellars.