The 500 hectares of vineyards are flourishing at the border of the provinces of Cuneo and Asti, at the North East Langhe, boundless hills so dear to writers like Cesare Pavese, who was actually born in S.Stefano Belbo, and of Beppe Fenoglio, are the inspiring source and often the background of their best literary works.
Hills made up of blue grey marl and sandstone rock mixed with infinite layers, raised from the seas twenty million years ago and eroded in the years until a territory so various and inaccessible was generated, picturesque e changeable in lights and colours with the seasons, which has found in the stoical and stubborn work of man an ideal balance to its untidy geology, finally becoming a rare and admirable example of rational integration between nature and agriculture.
Nothing better than vineyards could and can grow on these hills; nothing can, better than Moscato, gather the light and the warmth of the sun on these arid and steep sides, summarising it in a nectar by an inimitable scent; nothing better than these vineyards can refine the profiles, the slopes, the valleys and the hills, multiplying infinite geometries and landscapes, a real kaleidoscope of images climbing the hills until evidently standing out on the ridges against the severe ledge of the Alps.
The Cantina Vallebelbo Sca is an agricultural cooperative that collects and vinifies the grapes produced by 150 wine growers that have about 500 hectares of precious vineyards in the heart of the Langhe, on the hills around Santo Stefano Belbo. This wine growing area represents the most important centre of production of WHITE MOSCATO grapes, with which two aromatic sweet wines, famous all over the world for their uniqueness, are produced: the ASTI and the MOSCATO D’ASTI, both of Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed origin.
For this reason, the Cantina VALLEBELBO is one of the most important cooperatives of Piedmont, with a production of Moscato that represents about 5% of the whole piedmontese production.
The company consists of one productive centre, with a total surface of 10.000 square metres, composed by three plants:
- a plant of about 3.500 square metres, used for the receipt of grapes, the vinification and the conservation at controlled temperature of musts. It has a storage capacity of about 6.670.000 litres;
- a plant of about 900 square metres, used for the production of sparkling and fizzy wines, where there are thermo – conditioned autoclaves. It has a total capacity of 600.000 litres;
- next to this last local, there are the shop, the offices and the council halls, on which dominates a wonderful terrace from which it’s possible to admire the hills embroidered by Moscato’s rows.
- a plant developed on two floors, with a total surface of about 3.900 square metres, where at the first floor there is the bottling and packaging line with a productive capacity of 4.000 bottles per hour, and at the low ground there is the warehouse, where there are the bottled wines ready for the dispatch.
The supply of the grapes by the members, is managed by the responsible of production who establishes a supplying program and he organizes the supplies according to the areas of origin, that it’s an element that in a normal year can influence the maturation state of grapes.
The grapes quality and their compliance with the production regulations, are valued at the moment of the delivery. The supply is the first phase of a working process, that will take to the final bottle, ready for the customer, and all the phases of this process are followed by computerized systems that allow the reconstruction of the entire productive path from the bottle to the grape of origin.
Traditionally , the vinification technique of Moscato grape is based on the use of the cold chain, based on a fast cooling of the must. The vinification process starts with the crushing followed by a “soft” pressing at low pressure, for extracting only the best part of the juice.
In order to inactivate the yeasts, naturally present on the grapes, and to stop the natural fermentation of the sugars present in the must, aside the dejection of the temperature approximately -1°C, it happens the clarification and the filtration of the must, to obtain a clarity so good that enables the conservation in freezer for several months.
The obtained must, a pure grape’s juice with an effective alcohol content lower than 1% and an high sweetness and aromaticity, is maintained in freezers and in thermo-conditioned steel tanks, to be ready to become sparkling wine every moment in the year. In this way the Moscato maintains its typical fragrance and aromatic complexity, typical of the grape of origin.
Aside the Asti and the Moscato d’Asti, the Cantina Vallebelbo produces the most prestigious piedmontese red wines like the Dolcetto Alba DOC, the Barbera d’Alba DOC, the Barbera d’Asti DOCG, the Langhe DOC Nebbiolo, the Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG, the Barolo DOCG and the Barbaresco DOCG, as well the white wines: the Roero Arneis DOCG, the Piemonte DOC fizzy Cortese, the Langhe DOC Chardonnay, the Langhe DOC Favorita, the Langhe DOC Arneis.
Aside the wines of Denomination od Controlled and Guaranteed origin, the Cantina Vallebelbo produces partially fermented musts of grapes and general wines, both sparkling and fizzy, among which the Intruso Brut, the Red Vermiglio from aromatic grapes, the Fior di Vigna and the Due Gradi. This last product is unique because it has only 2 degrees of effective alcohol, so it remembers the characteristics of the grape just squeezed.