The Piedmontese family that has owned the Giacomo Borgogno & Figli winery for nearly 250 years has sold the historic company. Family owners Giorgio Boschis and his brother, Cesare, great-nephews of Giacomo Borgogno, say they finalized a deal selling the winery to local entrepreneur Oscar Farinetti and his son, Francesco, in January. Local sources estimate the sale price at around $30 million.
The winery, located in the town of Barolo, is one of the landmark producers in the Barolo-producing Langhe zone of Piedmont. In its heyday in the 1960s, it sourced grapes from many small producers in the area for its Barolo, Barbera and Dolcetto reds.
Farinetti made his fortune initially with the Trony electronics retail chain and, more recently, with the Eataly Italian food-and-wine outlets in Turin and Milan, with stores opening soon in Tokyo and New York.
According to the terms of the sale, the Boschis brothers will continue to oversee production at the winery for the next three years. They each retain a 5 percent interest in the winery for that period. "Nothing is going to change," Giorgio Boschis said. "We retain complete control over the production and will carry on as normal. If we decide to sell the rest of our percentage after three years, the price is already fixed."
The sale includes a valuable inventory—around 120,000 bottles of old vintages of the winery's Barolos, from 1961 through 1990. "My uncle, Cesare, built up the bulk of the collection," said Boschis, "during the lean years of the [World War II] and after. We generally keep back around 20 percent of the production in a good vintage and sell [the bottles] a few at a time, mostly to the quality restaurant trade."
The Farinettis will make a few changes after the sale, according to Boschis. The winery will only produce wines from its own 49.5 acres of vineyards, including vineyard plots in the top Barolo crus, such as Cannubi, Liste and San Pietro. Consequently, production of the Grignolino d'Asti and the Freisa d'Asti reds, made from bought grapes, will cease. Boschis also said that Farinetti has made a marketing strategy agreement for the United States with his friend, Giorgio Rivetti, owner of La Spinetta in Barbaresco.
The winery currently produces around 8,300 cases of wine, including three Barolos: a standard Barolo, a Barolo Classico and the single-vineyard Barolo Liste. The rest of the production includes a Barbera, a Dolcetto, a Nebbiolo d'Alba and a small quantity of the traditional Barolo Chinato (herb-infused Barolo). The 2003 vintage of the Barolos will be released shortly, after the customary five years in the winery.
"I guess we were a bit unhappy to see the winery go out of the family," said Boschis. "But the new owner is a very practical person, not just a financier, and we can feel confident about the future."
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions