Contratto looks back at nearly 150 years of distinguished history. Here are some corner points summarized for a better overview:
Giuseppe Contratto moves from Aosta to Canelli intrigued with the idea to make champagne-style wines also in Italy.
200 people work for more than 5 years on building a cellar into the tuff limestone of the Canelli hills.
Contratto becomes an expert of the Metodo Classico production using mainly Moscato and releasing wines that are named Moscato Champagne and Asti Champagne.
The winery produces one million bottles annually, of which the majority was exported to the British Empire and more than 50 people were working in the busy cathederal cellars.
While Contratto was predominantly exported to the Britsh Empire and its colonies, a wine called "For England" was released, as the English were the first to develope a drier palate. The "For England" was less sweet than its Champagne colleagues from France.
1930 to 1945
The second world war also has an impact on Contratto and its production. While the winery tries to continue to make wines, the sales and production suffer largely under the economic restrictions of war. The winery loses almost all export sales in this difficult period.
The French Champagne region achieves that only sparkling wines from Champagne may be gven such name. Thus Contratto changes labels to Spumante "Metodo Champenois".
1950 to 1970
Contratto Metodo Classico is still the most important quality metodo classico sparkling wine in Italy.
In 1977 Franciacorta winery, Ca del Bosco, releases its first sparkling wine, and shortly after, many other new Franciacorta cellars were established. In the 80's the bubbles from Franciacorta boomed in Italy and Contratto lost market share to these new colleagues from Lombardia.
No sparkling wine producer outside of Champagne may use the term "Champagne method". The region therefore changes from Spumnate "Metodo Champenois" to Metodo Classico.
After 126 years the winery leaves family hands and is sold to Canelli's grappa distillery, Bocchino.
1993 to 2011
Bocchino largely renovates and restores part of the cellar. He invests into the remodelling of the office and warehouses as well as the courtyard and outside fassade of the buildings. The physical appearance of the winery is reborn. The new production focus are reds; Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera, as well as Moscato d'Asti and Gavi. Less attention was given to the sparkling wines. The annual production of Spumante is reduced to less than 100.000 bottles annually.
Giorgio Rivetti of La Spinetta acquires Contratto together with his family. The goal is to revive the brand stronlgy re-focus on the sparkling wine production.
Large financial investments are necessary to achieve a high quality production of classic method sparkling wines, using Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Half of the Contratto sales are again export sales.
Contratto releases three different Vermouth and a Fernet, all based on the original recipes from the 1910s to the 1930s.
Contratto's annual production is now again at 150.000 bottles of high end sparkling wines. The grape production moved from Oltrepo Pavese vineyards to Alta Langa vineyards. Export sales reach 70%. A Bitter and Aperitif are released and added to the spirits range, both products also based on original Contratto recipes.
Contratto acquires land at Bossolasco (Alta Langa) at 720 meter a.s.l. and plants its first 5 hecatre Pinot Noir and Chardonnay high elevation vineyard.