Like all good things, Fontanafredda is the product of a love story, between the first King of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II, and Rosa Vercellana.
The Fontanafredda estate is purchased by Vittorio Emanuele as a gift for “La Bella Rosina”, the woman he loved, and subsequently registered in the names of their children, Maria Vittoria and Emanuele Alberto Count of Mirafiore and Fontanafredda
The first Barolo vineyard
The King purchases the first vineyard in Barolo, creating the name “Tenimenti di Barolo e Fontanafredda”, which appeared on the first bottles.
The first vinification
The first wines are vinified in Fontanafredda’s cellars, although a Fontanafredda Barolo is mentioned from as early as 1867
Count Emanuele Alberto
Count Emanuele Alberto establishes the winegrowing estate, with over 300 hectares cultivated directly by qualified staff paid specifically to do this job (unique for the time)
The first transatlantic Barolo
The first Barolo is exported across the ocean
The first concrete vats in Europe
The first concrete vats in Europe are installed in our cellars
The death of Emanuele Alberto
Emanuele Alberto di Mirafiore, responsible for making Barolo a legend, dies. The man who made Fontanafredda a real village, with a church and a school, was succeeded by his second child, Gastone, who was still very young at the time
Under the direction of Cavalier Mollo, the estate reaches its maximum expansion in terms of production and sales, with 200 employees and over 40 families residing on the estate.
Due to the devastation of the vines by a disease known as phylloxera, and to the Great American Depression, the land and the cellar were sold to Monte dei Paschi di Siena, a Tuscan bank, for the sum of 1,050,500 Italian Lira. The new owner named the winery after the location: Tenimenti di Barolo e Fontanafredda, while the “Casa E. di Mirafiore” label was purchased by the Gancia family, for 100,000 Lira.
After the Second World War, the work of Cavalier Giuseppe Bressano, between 1950 and 1959, led to the development of an image of Fontanfredda as associated with high quality, strengthening the brand’s reputation
The first sparkling wine
In 1959, Fontanafredda produced its first Contessa Rosa Metodo Classico, laying the foundations for today’s Alta Langa
Barolo La Rosa
The first certified Cru Barolo La Rosa was made, separately vinifying the grapes from the vineyard of the same name
The first Barolo Serralunga
The first Barolo Serralunga was made, with the indication of the municipality of origin on the label
Fontanafredda becomes an olympic wine
At the 20th Olympic Winter Games in Turin. It was also around about this time that the raising of awareness of the need to pursue sustainability began
The big change
Comes when Oscar Farinetti and Luca Baffigo purchase the estate and Fontanafredda returns under Piedmontese ownership, after 77 years
Barolo La Rosa 2008 is included in Wine Spectator’s “Top 100 Wines”
The process of converting all the estate’s vineyard’s to Organic Farming techniques begins
European winery of the year
Fontanafredda becomes “European Winery of the Year” for the prestigious American magazine Wine Enthusiast and inaugurates the “Storytelling Village”
A return to organic methods
Fontanafredda’s 160th birthday coincides with the first certified organic harvest
New wines on the podium
With scores of 95 from Wine Spectator for Barolo Proprietà 2013, the first vintage produced, and of 94 points from Wine Enthusiast Editor’s Choice for Barolo Serralunga 2015
A Green Renaissance for the new Fontanafredda
A new Renaissance changes both the scenario and values while achieving the same result: a rebirth, to change and innovate
Barolo was not born by chance. “If you really love me give me that estate”
That is how it must have been, actually that is definitely what happened. It was just before 1858 when one of the most beautiful love stories of the Langhe was born. In October, during hunting season, Rosa Vercellana, called the “Bela Rusin”, was walking in the park of Racconigi when a man with the peculiarity of curling his mustaches, hit her.
That young man, the most fascinating of the time, was called Vittorio and had been married to Maria Adelaide for over five years. The “Bela Rusin” was 14 years old and was the daughter of the major drum of the army of King Carlo Alberto, Vittorio’s father. One day Vittorio noticed her and it was love at first sight: a love destined to be secret, like the stories he had with his other lovers. Rosina, in his heart, knew it. However, she was willing to accept it, perhaps because she thought that he did not love anyone else like her.
Bella Rosina was the most envied woman of the time
Vittorio, the first King of Italy in 1861, had given her two wonderful sons: Vittoria and Emanuele. Following a rough illness, the wife of the King died. Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, began to offer him a list of women to be taken in marriage, because Rosina was a simple peasant. However, Vittorio did not give up and in 1877 chose her, naming her Countess of Mirafiore and Fontanafredda, giving her the estate that he had bought in 1858 in the village of Serralunga d’Alba. This is how the history of Barolo and Fontanafredda began. The two newlyweds lived in the “Villa Reale” during the summer, they loved good food and the quality wine, which it was produced in the cellar in the village, where large chestnut barrels were used.
In 1878, Vittorio died of a bad pneumonia, a few years later Rosina followed him. In those years, the eldest son, Emanuele Alberto, thanks to his passion and foresight, founded the winery “Casa E. di Mirafiore” with his properties in Barolo and Fontanafredda.
A family story, from generation to generation
All the newspapers were telling about their son, as a man who brought Barolo to the world market by creating the first commercial price list. “Casa Emanuele di Mirafiore” was an avant-garde company. In 1887 it was the first in Europe to make concrete barrels on the Swiss patent of Borsari company.
Its Barolo was getting more and more known. It received the gold medal at the Brussels fair in 1886, at the Chicago one in 1892 and at the San Franci¬sco one in 1894. Emanuele was not only a skilled producer, he also finished the construction of the village in Fontanafredda, crea¬ting farmhouses, cellars, stal¬ls and a church. Moreover, he founded the “Fratellanza Agricola Operaia”, a recrea¬tional center for employees, where he used to spend eve¬nings reading books to the community, still illiterate.
Un¬fortunately, in 1894, he died of a serious liver disease. His son Gastone took over when he was only 18 years old. The company was rapidly expanding and the first renovation project was completed with the expansion of the facilities and buildings: there were 200 employees and more than 40 families were living on the estate.
The young Gastone loved politics and one-night stands, he looked just like his grandfather, King Vittorio, and that is why the company turned out to be too an heavy burden for him.
Great challenges faced with courage for a great reconstruction
The management of the estate passed through a period of crisis, which was joined by the Great Depression of ‘29, arrived from America and phylloxera. The company went bankrupt. It was 1930 and the estate was sold for 1,005,500 liras to Monte dei Paschi di Siena, a Tuscan bank, while the Mirafiore brand was sold for 100,000 liras to a well-known Canelli producer.
Little by little, the winemaking started again, but without the brand, it was difficult to continue. They decided to use the toponym of the area, Fontanafredda, which became the name of the company. Then the Second Great War came, which marked difficult years that prevented the finding of essential goods. However, the village kept some of its “Happy Island”: together with the houses, the pit and the stables, there were a “Privativa”, which sold salts and tobaccos, some artisans, a large community garden and an oven.
Finally, the war ended. In Fontanafredda, after all the difficulties, everyone’s life went back to normal. The ‘50s were the years of economic recovery with investments not only on wine production, but also on the image and reputation of the company.
New production successes were not long in coming. In particular, in 1959 the first Contessa Rosa was produced, a wine that made the history of Piedmontese sparkling wine, named in honor of the Bella Rosina. The 1964 was the first year of production of Barolo La Rosa, the first certified cru in the Barolo area; in 1966, the first Italian fermentation facility in stainless steel was built; in 1988, the first Barolo with the municipal name “Serra¬lunga d’Alba” was born.
We could go on for hours, because Fonta¬nafredda was continuing to be a pioneer. Together with other Piedmontese compa¬nies Fontanafredda built the Alta Langa project, the classic bubbles method of Piedmont. The new millennium brought with it also a revolution in the technical team that reinterpreted the production philosophy and gave a more sustainable and qualitative imprint. In 2006, Fonta¬nafredda, became the official wine of the Turin Winter Olympics.
The big change. Fontanafredda became Piedmontese again
The big change came in 2008, when Oscar Farinetti and his partners bought the estate. After 77 years Fontanafredda became Piedmontese again. The business growth has been the result of the great quality. We saw it with Barolo La Rosa 2004, which won the highest scores on all Italian guides. The choice is to become a big/small producer.
The marriage between innovation, the change of packaging to “rejuvenate” the brand and the preservation of historicity with the old vintages of Barolo led to three simple concepts: quality, sustainability and storytelling. These are the key words of this adventure that has lasted 160 years, which today more than ever reaches great goals. We have the proof: Barolo la Rosa 2008 was named in 2013 by Wine Spectator as one of the 100 best wines in the world and then the first Barolo at M.G.A. Fontanafredda in 2017 was on the podium again. Just as 160 years ago, energies are still reserved for the territory and the community: in fact, the first narrating village in Italy was born right here. The dream that becomes reality is the appointment of the Wine Enthusiast as “European Cellar of the Year”.
The change of pace was evident and has been reflected in all the most important national and international guides in recent years: Wine Spectator awarded the 2013 Barolo DOCG Proprietà in Fontanafredda (the first vintage released onto the market) 95 points; Wine Enthusiast listed the 2015 Barolo DOCG del Comune di Serralunga d’Alba as “Editor’s Choice” and gave it 94 points; and, recently, the 2016 Barolo La Rosa was awarded 96 points by Wine Spectator and 95 points by Wine Enthusiast.
A new Fontanafredda is born. Better than ever and more respectful of our planet
2020 marked the birth of a new Fontanafredda, better than before and more respectful of our planet. After much thought about how to create new opportunities, the need for a change of perspective emerged: 500 years after the first Italian Renaissance, we now have the Green Renaissance.
The future still to be written, together
After all, if “Bela Rusin” had not fallen in love with King Vittorio, Emanuele could not have founded the winery and today we could not have told this beautiful story, instead we are here to continue writing it together.