When disaster struck their well-known winery in 1994, the Capetta family all pitched in to make sure they could fulfil their Christmas orders. It’s that determination that has made them a worldfamous winery in just two generations.
When Francesco Capetta decided to give up farming to open a wine shop in Mondovi, in the foothills of the Alps, at the end of the Second World War, he could not have imagined that 70 years later, his name would be on the labels of one of the world’s most popular sparkling wines. If he had reallydeveloped a taste for shopkeeping, the Capetta, Balbi Soprani and Duchessa Lia wine brands would never have been born. But in his soul, Capetta was a farmer, as his father had been, and as he sold bottles produced by other people, he began to dream of growing his own vines, and of making his own wine.
In 1953, he finally decided that it was time to stop dreaming. He closed his shop and headed back to the area of Piedmont where he was born and had grown up. After searching for a while, he found what he was looking for: A tiny wine estate in Santo Stefano Belbo, home of the famous Italian writer, Cesare Pavese. He began to produce red wine, which he sold to local inns and shops.
In those early years, Capetta’s business was a very small affair, with just a couple of tanks and a press. All of the work was done by the family, with the two oldest daughters lending a hand when they got back from school. But he appreciated the potential of the vineyards by which he was surrounded. Situated in the heart of Piedmont between the regions of Langhe and Monferrato, his winery was close to the homes of such illustrious wines as Moscato d’Asti, Asti, Barbera d’Asti, Dolcetto d’Alba, Nebbiolo d’Alba, Barolo, Barbaresco and Brachetto d’Acqui. In the 1950s, many of these wines – and Piedmont as a region – were well known in Italy, but it would take time before many of them developed a following overseas. From that time until his death in 1999, Capetta grew his business to become one of the most successful in the area.
This steady progress almost came to a halt, however, on 5 November 1994, when the winery was the victim of a flood that left it full of water and mud that in some places rose to almost two metres in height. Smaller tanks were knocked over and none of the equipment could be used again. Capetta’s children looked at the devastation and felt defeated, but their father refused to give in. He knew that the survival of everything he had created depended on being able to supply orders for the all-important Christmas market, due to begin less than a month later. For 20 days, the family and the Capetta employees worked day and night to get the winery working again. They were rewarded by the sight of the sparkling wine line efficiently producing beautifully-packaged bottles that would make their way onto thousands of tables during the holiday season.
Today, nine members of the Capetta family share the responsibilities of running a company whose winery now covers 22,000 square metres, and boasts nearly 120,000 hL of storage capacity. Riccardo, Capetta’s son is president, while his sisters, Maria Teresa, Carla and Gabriella are, respectively, managing director, credit manager and vineyard manager. Visitors to the winery are greeted by Riccardo’s wife Gloria who runs the front of house, while Maria Teresa’s husband Germano Bosio, the company’s oenologist presides over professional tastings. Carla’s husband, Mario Del Tufo takes care of sales, their daughter Chiara takes care of marketing and her cousin, Sara Bosio – Maria Teresa’s daughter – has the role of chief controller.
Where other wine companies might have board meetings in soulless offices, at the Capetta winery the family can have their discussions around a big table laden with great Piedmontese food and bottles of their delicious red, white, pink, still and sparkling wines that are now recognised as symbols of quality and excellence, both in Italy and abroad. The current generation has developed the business enormously over the last 15 years, but they never forget that everything they have today is the result of their father’s hard work, imagination and teaching, their employees’ passion and abilities, and their own commitment to follow in Francesco Capetta’s footsteps.
Corso Piave, 140
12058 SANTO STEFANO
Tel. +39 0141841611
Fax. +39 0141843277