A few kilometres from Casale Monferrato stands the small village of Olivola. With just over a hundred or so inhabitants, it boasts a superb view of the vineyards nestling among the Monferrato hills, sketched by the hand of the vine dressers.
The winery is situated at the top of a hill (“bric” in the local dialect) and is surrounded by thirty five hectares of its own vineyards, where the grapes used to make its wines are produced. Against the backdrop of the vineyards, the silhouette of the Monviso mountain stands out on the horizon behind the centuries’ old cedar tree which is the winery’s symbol.
Wine has always been the undisputed protagonist of life at Bricco dei Guazzi. Wine has been the conductor of an orchestra made up of vineyards, winery and wine, where over the seasons, the sounds of nature (the wind in the foliage of the rows, the tumult of the crushed grapes and fermenting must, the rustle of the leaves in autumn and silence of the winter cold) have created a perfect symphony which is reflected in our wine. Gavi DOCG, Chardonnay, Barbera, La Presidenta and Albarossa are simply the natural expression of these enchanted lands.
The 1400s were already the future. The first winery has merged with the buildings and modernisations added later, reaching our time in a unique and unrepeatable production cycle. The inheritance and skill of the wineries of past centuries are still an active operative part of today’s processes. Past experiences and the future come together in Bricco dei Guazzi wines.
The first Bricco dei Guazzi wine cellar was excavated under the noble Guazzo family’s villa in the 15th century. This part of the winery is still functioning and is used as a tasting room, connected to the Infernot.
In the 1700s, more than three centuries later, the need to expand the production area led to construction of the large vaulted winery with its magnificent brick geometry under the buildings on the north side of the old courtyard. Today you can still admire the masonry fermentation tanks excavated under the yard where the carts arrived with the bunches of grapes. The grapes were “gravity fed” from the carts to the fermentation tanks, then the wine was flowed into great wooden casks on the floor below. One of the 200 hectolitre wooden casks constructed in past centuries in every span of the arches can still be seen today. These rooms are now used to fine our wines in wood, a place skilfully built to maintain constant temperature and humidity throughout the year.
And so we come to more recent times, the 1970s, when absolute modernity meant reinforced concrete tanks, a number of which were also built here. Today only two of these tanks remain.
The most modern form of the winery dates back to just a few years ago when the buildings at the sides and on a level with the old courtyard were meticulously refurbished, with restoration of the ancient walls in rough-hewn blocks of tuff alternating with rows of brick, the roof was rebuilt and modern functional stainless steel temperature-controlled tanks and a bottling plant were installed.
Today, all these ways of running a winery exist side by side and all play an active role in producing our wines. Bricco dei Guazzi is not a museum of the epochs of winemaking, but living proof that the past can also be the present, as confirmed by the winery in full activity, where there is nothing which is not still in use and kept alive.
Every period has given us its best in the art of vine growing and winemaking, and this is skilfully used and transformed into five wines of great calibre.
And here is the explanation of the title of this brief history: some of the world’s most famous oenologists suggest crushing grapes on the top of the tank to avoid the skins and pips being crushed by the pumps and tubes while transferring the must. Others claim that the wine must be transferred by gravity without excessive pressure and cloudiness. This installation built and designed two centuries ago already respected these principles.
The site was also ahead of the times with regard to Sustainability. A word to write with a capital letter, given the importance of conserving our planet’s resources. Here there are a series of large vaulted cisterns carved out of the rock right under the yard at the centre of the courtyard. These five terraced cisterns are joined together to create a natural purification system which still gathers rainwater from all the roofs today. This water is still used to irrigate the vineyards, lawn and garden.