Ours is the classic story of a farming family in the Langhe. First sharecroppers (my great-grandfather Giuseppe, from 1890 to 1930), then small owners of land cultivated with various crops (my grandfather Angelo, from 1930 to 1960). Beginning in the 1960s, the property was enlarged with my father Giuseppe, and then came I… Anna Maria, since 1995 the owner of the farm, to turn the sleepy, “bogianen” course of the family upside down.
The land has always been inherited by the first male child of the family, and when it became clear that I would remain my father’s only child, it was thought that everything would end. In fact, growing up I decided that I would break away from this world and start working as an advertising graphic designer.
In 1986, the methanol scandal caused serious damage to wine consumption and, as a result, grape prices also fell substantially, causing, in 1989, my father’s decision to sell the family vineyards. It was at that moment that my “Bastian Contrarian” spirit took over: backed by my husband Franco Schellino I decided to give up my job and return to taking care of the vineyards, convincing my father of the goodness of the project.
The intention was to try to make wine (Dolcetto di Dogliani, to be precise) in a conscientious way, attentive to tradition and authenticity, giving value again to the expression of the vine in its land of choice.
It was a very difficult moment in history, we were going completely against the tide: most people thought wine was dying as a product. For me, however, it was exactly the opposite: after the sad episode of sophisticated wine, I was convinced that less would be drunk, but certainly more would be guaranteed, with much better qualities. The teachings I had received from my grandfather and father of honesty and dedication to the land were a great help in building what would later become the Anna Maria Abbona winery.
In 30 years, the world of wine has been in a constant state of transformation. In the early 1990s, the pressing need was for quality and assurance. Guides, tasting courses, appellations multiplied. Later the goal was globalization: we had to conquer the world with our bottles, and international wine fairs were mandatory stops to meet possible new buyers.
In the meantime, the climate was changing, someone began to wonder where one was going and how one was traveling…
Wines are now all good, certified, drunk and told in all their facets: with the help of social media everyone has become expert storytellers, judges, consultants. In a moment with a post you get to every part of the world and share grape harvests, prunings, racking, tastings. So what is missing?
The pandemic has made us realize that we cannot always run without ever turning around to look at what we leave behind. We need to stop and think about what we want our farm to become; to focus on sustainability with a look at the lessons of the past. The old Langa was a place of circular economy, where farmsteads produced everything they needed to be self-sufficient. It is difficult to re-propose these kinds of parameters today, but surely a reflection on diversified cultivation will be important for our future. Perhaps the idea of continuous growth will have to be abandoned, in favor of optimizing what our land can produce, without forcing it. It is up to our sons Federico and Lorenzo, the company’s new generation, to become heirs and innovators, following the values in which we have always believed.