A family tradition since 1902.
To better understand any individual entity within the modern Italian wine industry, it is helpful to revisit the country's 2,000-plus year-old vinicultural history. Most stories of early Rome are filled with Bacchanalian feasts where wine was more than commonplace and was often considered the mainstay of the particular event. Records show that these early wines were not fermented and mostly juices that were probably only slightly alcoholic.
Throughout the centuries, Italian wines slowly evolved and the process of fermentation became commonplace. Sometime in the latter part of the 19th Century, an area in Northern Italy known as the Piemonte became known for its great wines, particularly one named after the great Barolo grape. History shows that a certain Italian diplomat named Cavour from the Piemonte Region was instrumental in the reunification of Italy in 1861, and later became a grower and vintner of great renown in his place of origin.
Early in the twentieth century, the Rivetto Family of Alba found their way into the wine business. Giovanni Rivetto was a butcher by trade, who, when money was scarce, received wine from his customers in return for meats and pasta. Giovanniâ€™s own shop was the result of money his father had earned in the United States when he helped build railroads during the 1860's.
When his cellar became too large to manage, Giovanni began selling the wines and eventually became interested in producing wines of his own. Sometime around 1932, Giovanni Rivetto purchased a wonderful piece of land in the nearby hills of Langhe and decided to build a winery with his sons Nando and Ercole. The winery turned out to be quite successful and even withstood the onset of the first and second world wars. One of the familyâ€™s most prized possessions continues to be a vineyard planted during 1944 by Nando while the country was occupied by the Germans, when rationing and similar rationales made such an enterprise even more impressive.
Eventually, Sergio Rivetto took over the familyâ€™s winery operations and brought Rivetto to its modern-day status. Sergio benefited from the fact that one of Italyâ€™s top Oenology schools was located in nearby Alba, and was delighted when his son Enrico decided to follow him into the family wine business by enrolling in the same oenology school.
As is the case with many family-owned Italian wineries, Rivetto makes a large number of wines, traditionally the wines that have made their region famous. Rivettoâ€™s northern Italian location also proved helpful, since it was widely held that Northern Italian cuisine was the finest in the entire country and the region's heralded wines were the perfect compliment to the area's incredible foods.
The modern day Rivetto winery produced between 10,000 and 12,000 cases annually and is distributed throughout Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Rivetto's production has grown slowly and has been recently affected by the weakness of the Euro in the world market. Rivetto operates a tasting facility in the town of Alba (a rarity among Italian wineries) that is run by Sergio's wife Paolo. The family also operates a well-respected bed and breakfast nearby that offers a really unique insight into both the Rivetto Family and the entire Piemonte Region.
Sergio considers himself officially retired and has turned over the operation of the winery to his son Enrico, 27, but still helps out on a daily basis in both the cellar and vineyards. Sergio's other son, Alessandro, 36, is a land surveyor by trade who also helps with the more bureaucratic and political aspects of the business as well as handling the winery's export into both Switzerland and Luxemburg, Rivetto's two largest export markets.
By most standards, Rivetto is a most typical small, family-owned winery. Rivetto also benefits from the fact that practically all of the vineyard land it owns is contiguous as opposed to many other small wineries that own pieces of land located in different areas. This fact allows Rivetto closer quality control of its wines and less variation for the ensuing vintages.
It is refreshing to begin our International Series with wines from a quality producer like Rivetto, whose tradition spans three centuries and whose family is completely dedicated to art of making fine wines. We offer the wines of Rivetto as s fitting tribute to the greatness of Italian wines in general and to the remarkable history of that country's durable wine industry.
One family, four generations, three great wines.
I tell everyone I meet I was born inside an old barrel,quips youngish Enrico Rivetto, now at 27 a surprisingly accomplished winemaker and director of the Rivetto Family winery. "I think it's that way in most of Italy, since we are always considered a most traditional country." As the fourth generation head of the winery that bears his family's name, Enrico Rivetto is unexpectedly accomplished for his age. He has followed in his father Segio's footsteps, a gifted winemaker in his own right who learned the business from his father and uncles. Enrico recalls that he first started in the business at age 6, when he assisted his father in handling the pump and by turning the switches on and off. By the time he was twenty, he knew his future lay in the business his great grandfather had started well over a hundred years before.
"The wine business was never pushed on me," he declares, "if it were things might have been very different. But my father was wise to let me fall in love with wine on my own. That way, everything I experienced was special for me and I was able to appreciate the finer aspects even more. Enrico enrolled in Alba's oenological school and graduated some three years later. â€œMost of the people around the school were French" he recalls. "I was able to learn to speak French, but I felt it was a great day for me when I finished and was able to finally come into our family's business. I always felt the winery was where I was meant to be. He is truly impassioned about his wines, he is most proud of his family's Barbera d'Alba, made from grapes from his Vionando Vineyard. Enrico characterizes the wine as a wine that offers the very best in fruit, structure and flavor. What's even better,he exclaimed, is that if the grapes are of a proper quality the wine can be aged like an old Barolo, our region's almost mythical wine. Enrico is also pleased that his father Sergio, although officially considered retired, is around to help him on a daily basis. The two work together in both the cellar and vineyards. When I travel around to promote our wines, I am amazed at just how many people we meet know my father from the time he sold our wines around the region. Such is the life and times of Enrico Rivetto, a harmonious blending of the past and the future. His winemaking skills and his family's well-etched niche in the annals of the Piemonte wine industry bode well for the future. Enrico's dedication and verve for his avocation make a convincing argument for his family's winery's continued success.