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Aziende Agricole Sella Soc.Agr. A R.L.

THE HISTORY THREE CENTURIES OF HISTORY IN THE HEART OF NORTHERN PIEDMONT A notarial deed dating back to 1671 shows that Comino Sella purchased several vineyards in Lessona to invest profits from the family’s textile manufacturing business in agriculture. Between the 17th and 19th centuries, several contracts of sale were concluded by Comino’s descendants to invest in land planted with vineyards in the Lessona area. Between 1830 and 1840, Giovanni Giacomo Antonio Sella built the family estate and farmhouses on top of the hill planted with the Zoppo vineyard, of great value and with excellent exposure to sunlight, most probably the same vineyard mentioned in a document dating back to 1436. Around 1870, when Maurizio Sella’s inheritance was distributed among his children – Gaudenzio, Quintino and Giuseppe Venanzio Sella -, the vineyards and properties in Lessona were given to Giuseppe Venanzio Sella. The Sella Family decided to enlarge the estate by investing in the Villa del Bosco area, still mostly wild and untouched, and plant it with vineyards. Between 1882 and 1884, Carlo Sella, on behalf of Giuseppe Venanzio’s heirs, purchased the Bramaterra land from the town of Villa del Bosco and entrusted Don Paolo Antoniotti, a priest and man of science, with the task of reclaiming the land. In the years 1892-1893, Cascina Bramaterra, the rural building that still dominates the estate, was built to the design of Gaudenzio Sella. By the turn of the century, the Bramaterra vineyards had got into production; the wine produced was proudly called “Bramaterra”, at last. Following the death of Giuseppe Venanzio, the current owners’ great-grandfather, the winegrowing business was carried on by his children – big textile entrepreneurs – and, in particular, by his wife Clementina Mosca. From the 1930s on, Venanzio (1901-1990) took over at the helm of the company until the mid ‘80s and went on pursuing product quality and working hard to be granted the DOC status, which was obtained in 1976 for Lessona and in 1979 for Bramaterra. THE TERROIRS LESSONA AND BRAMATERRA Lessona is situated in the central-eastern zone of the Biella area, in the part of the Northern Piedmont region located on the right bank of the Sesia river’s orographic basin. The Lessona territory is made up of hilly ridges and protected, to the north, by the foothills of the Alps and overlooking the valley to the south. The hilly winegrowing areas are mostly composed of Pliocene marine sand deposits with clayey loess deposits here and there, while down in the valley the soil reveals marine sand deposits with shell fossils. Due to the pH level, ranging from 4.5 to 5.5, these soils are classified among the world’s most acid winegrowing soils. The Bramaterra region includes, from west to east, the towns of Masserano, Brusnengo, Curino, Roasio, Sostegno, Villa del Bosco and Lozzolo. Situated to the east of Lessona, Bramaterra covers a vast hilly area stretching as far as the eastern boundary of the province of Biella, in the part of the Northern Piedmont region located on the right bank of the Sesia river’s orographic basin. The Bramaterra territory extends throughout the southern part of Rive Rosse, a wide hilly area extending for dozens of kilometers, a sparsely populated area, dominated by wild flora and fauna with thick woods rich in oak, chestnut and birch trees. Geologically speaking, the area consists of a ring of three islands of quartziferous porphyry, volcanic rock formed from magmas with high-gas content, of Permian origin, in addition to a calcareous island (in Sostegno) and abundant traces of marine sands and clays (in particular, in the area’s easternmost part). The Bramaterra estate is situated on a block of red porphyry disintegrated by the prolonged action of atmospheric agents, with the presence here and there of clayey deposits, more or less firm. THE SANDS OF LESSONA This geographical region has a sub-continental climate with many microclimatic oases very well exposed to sunshine. Therefore, these oases, among which is the hilly area of Lessona, enjoy a Mediterranean climate with mild average temperatures. Winters are rarely cold, with moderate rainfall and little or no snowfall and frost. Springtime, which is usually rainy and mild, brings an early start to vegetation. The mild summer season grades gradually into autumn, often warm and dry, without sudden seasonal shift, ensuring slow and full ripening. Rainfall, which is quite abundant in the Biella area, decreases rapidly within a few kilometers: while in Biella the rainfall is about 1500 mm/yr, in Lessona, just 15 kilometers away to the east, average rainfall is slightly over 1000 and is concentrated in spring months. Therefore, summer rains are crucial to the vines’ growth and development: Lessona’s sandy soil, very poor at holding water, would cause the plants to suffer from excessive water stress. The Lessona area’s soils are mostly composed of marine sand and are classified among the world’s most acid winegrowing soils. The high concentration of iron, manganese and potassium gives the wines their mineral complexity. Vineyard management is based on the greatest respect for the vine’s age; the old average age of our vineyards (about 70 years) compels us to respect every single vine and make sure it goes on producing as long as possible. Working with old vineyards results in higher costs and lower yield, but these vines, with their deep roots, give grapes that express the terroir to the fullest. In order to respect the soil and control erosion, we work the soil once a year (usually in early winter). Only natural or pelleted manure is used as fertilizer or by mowing the under-vine grass which, left in place, reduces the nitrogen supply to the plants. Most of viticulture practices are carried out manually, from winter pruning to harvesting. The vines are trained to grow in line with the Guyot pruning system leaving 8 to 10 buds per branch. Usually, our vineyards do not require green harvesting over summertime: the vineyards’ old age naturally ensures a reduced fruit load, an average of 500 to 1000 grams per plant. THE PORPHYRIES OF BRAMATERRA The Bramaterra region includes, from west to east, the towns of Masserano, Brusnengo, Curino, Roasio, Sostegno, Villa del Bosco and Lozzolo. Situated to the east of Lessona, Bramaterra covers a vast hilly area stretching as far as the eastern boundary of the province of Biella, in the part of the Northern Piedmont region located on the right bank of the Sesia river’s orographic basin. From the microclimatic point of view, the seasonal trend is similar to that of Lessona, despite colder average winter temperatures. The Bramaterra territory extends throughout the southern part of Rive Rosse, a wide hilly area extending for dozens of kilometers, a sparsely populated area, dominated by wild flora and fauna with thick woods rich in oak, chestnut and birch trees. Geologically speaking, the area consists of a ring of three islands of quartziferous porphyry, volcanic rock formed from magmas with high-gas content, of Permian origin, in addition to a calcareous island (in Sostegno) and abundant traces of marine sands and clays (in particular in the area’s easternmost part). The Bramaterra estate is situated on a block of red porphyry disintegrated by the prolonged action of atmospheric agents, with the presence here and there of clayey deposits, more or less firm. The core of the Bramaterra estate, established in the late 1800s, consisted in a few hectares. Over the 20th century, the Bramaterra estate grew to include 20 hectares over a single plot of land and is now the largest wine estate owned by one family in the whole Northern Piedmont region. The vineyards spread over a sweet hilly area at 270 to 350 meters above sea level. The soils, of volcanic origin, have an acid pH and a color palette ranging from light yellow to dark red and brown, according to the level of oxidization. The vineyards’ average age is 45 years, while the youngest vines were planted about fifteen years ago. The vineyard that gives “I Porfidi” selection, set on the estate’s highest hill, is much older: it was planted in 1933 on a vein of red-brown colored pure porphyry. Vineyard management follows the same principles used for the Lessona vineyards, as far as soil management and fertilizing is concerned. Most of viticulture practices are carried out manually, from winter pruning to harvesting. The vines are trained to grow in line with the Guyot pruning system leaving 8 to 10 buds per branch. Usually, our oldest vineyards do not require green harvesting over summertime, as the fruit load is less than 1000 grams per plant. Instead, the fruit load is carefully regulated on younger vines to ensure proper and well-balanced ripening.

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