LA VERSA

A century of passion

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The pride of the Oltrepò Pavese region

In over one hundred years of production, La Versa has remained true to the original idea of its founder Cesare Gustavo Faravelli who, together with the first 22 shareholders, decided on 21 May 1905 to make top-quality wines able to embody the characteristics of the best grapes in his home region. La Versa is now a well-known brand due to its sparkling wines, drawing inspiration from its glorious past to look to the future with renewed vigour. It is once again a precious asset of the Oltrepò Pavese region, as it is fully owned by Terre d’Oltrepò.

History to be shared together

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History to be shared together

It was 21 May 1905, a Sunday. The Honourable Gabriele Luigi Montemartini, a deputy of the Kingdom of Italy and originally from Montù Beccaria, along with Cesare Gustavo Faravelli, an engineer from Soriasco who would become the company’s first president, formed the cooperative winery “Cantina Sociale di S. Maria della Versa”. The original group had 22 winegrowers – all strictly owners, tenant farmers or settlers of vineyards within the Val Versa valley. According to the Statute, the purpose of this newly-formed winery was «to make wines to a set standard solely from the shareholders’ grapes using logical methods and to sell them in the common interest». Even from the outset of this cooperative, you could feel the deep bond with the region, that part of Oltrepò Pavese where – as Gianni Brera would write in the preface to the book “La Versa: 80 anni” – «the vineyard embellishes every stride in mankind’s labour of love». The first year in business ended with 500,000 kg of grapes turned into wine, a figure that was to double between 1913 and 1914.

The days went by and this cooperative winery grew. It was now 1915: another 78 shareholders had joined the 22 founding members. The new common goal was now growing Pinot Nero, to be used in making sparkling wine, something which the company had embraced from as far back as 1907.

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A calling to sparkling wine

The days went by and this cooperative winery grew. It was now 1915: another 78 shareholders had joined the 22 founding members. The new common goal was now growing Pinot Nero, to be used in making sparkling wine, something which the company had embraced from as far back as 1907.

A wager won

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A wager won

From 1930, it was sparkling wine that earned La Versa approval and longevity. That year, Mr. Faravelli and wine technician Mario Pozzi, endeavoured on an adventure behind semi-closed doors into the Traditional Method. The bottles were crammed into the winery and remained there until 1935, when they were riddled on pupitre wine racks placed in the cooler corners. They won their wager: what had begun as an experiment using rudimentary tools (but also with the right amount of expertise) proved to be the key to success for a constantly growing company.
The Gran Spumante Brut was therefore made, the first Italian Traditional Method vintage. A prestigious fine wine which, two years later, would win the “Grand Prix” on French soil at the World's Fair in Paris. The winegrowers’ enthusiasm was so great that it led to the construction of an underground cellar, with an average capacity of 40,000 Traditional Method bottles a year.

The following period was certainly not easy, initially with the war upsetting all balance and then with the hard work of reconstruction. Yet La Versa did not halt its expansion, reaching 500 shareholders in 1946.

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The 500 landmark

The following period was certainly not easy, initially with the war upsetting all balance and then with the hard work of reconstruction. Yet La Versa did not halt its expansion, reaching 500 shareholders in 1946.

Time to export

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Time to export

In the meantime, regulations came into force on the transformation of cooperatives into shareholdings, which allowed the winery to become a joint-stock company. 1955 was a crucial year for La Versa, when two of its products – the Riesling and the Gran Spumante – won the gold medal and first prize at the Asti Wine Competition. Another accolade. It was therefore no coincidence that, in 1955, La Versa sparkling wines crossed the ocean, conquering markets in the United States and Peru, while the Muscat arrived in France. These exports brought forward direct shipments to Germany, which began immediately after the winery’s participation in the Cologne International Fair in 1957.

In the late 1950s, Duke Antonio Giuseppe Denari joined the board of directors, later to become the president of the winery, taking over the helm in 1974, and a key figure in many incredible achievements that would be reached in the years to come. In fact, he was the one who set the change of course, in terms of production and image, that would lead La Versa to establish itself as one of the most important wine-making brands in Italy.
During his presidency, which would last until 1994, the Oltrepò region’s calling to Pinot Nero was further enhanced, being increasingly used as the base for sparkling wine production. He focused on reducing yield in favour of better quality, on modernising the winery’s equipment and on new distribution and marketing policies.

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The Duke’s seal

In the late 1950s, Duke Antonio Giuseppe Denari joined the board of directors, later to become the president of the winery, taking over the helm in 1974, and a key figure in many incredible achievements that would be reached in the years to come. In fact, he was the one who set the change of course, in terms of production and image, that would lead La Versa to establish itself as one of the most important wine-making brands in Italy.
During his presidency, which would last until 1994, the Oltrepò region’s calling to Pinot Nero was further enhanced, being increasingly used as the base for sparkling wine production. He focused on reducing yield in favour of better quality, on modernising the winery’s equipment and on new distribution and marketing policies.

Liquid Elegance

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Liquid Elegance

From Duke Denari’s strategic vision came the decision, in 1989, to release onto the market the “Brut Testarossa”, which got its name due to its distinctive bright red cap: one of the most popular (and award-winning) La Versa wines in the company’s entire history. The 1980s, 90s and 2000s also saw the winery committed to supporting culture by sponsoring numerous Italian theatres: the La Scala, the Carcano, the Piccolo Teatro and the Franco Parenti in Milan; the Parioli and the Sistina in Rome; the Teatro Stabile in Bologna, the Politeama in Genoa, the Teatro Stabile in Parma, the Teatro Verdi in Florence and the Fraschini in Pavia. It was also a sponsor of the Giro d’Italia bike race from 1997 to 2000.

The latest major change happened in autumn 2019, as La Versa once again became an asset of the Oltrepò Pavese region thanks to the full acquisition of the brand by Terre d’Oltrepò. On 13 February 2017, this cooperative winery based in Broni acquired La Versa together with Cavit, a leader in wine production in the Trentino Alto-Adige region. New challenges and goals now await the winery, strengthened by its solid, long-standing identity and a production philosophy inextricably linked to the territory.

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Together, into the future

The latest major change happened in autumn 2019, as La Versa once again became an asset of the Oltrepò Pavese region thanks to the full acquisition of the brand by Terre d’Oltrepò. On 13 February 2017, this cooperative winery based in Broni acquired La Versa together with Cavit, a leader in wine production in the Trentino Alto-Adige region. New challenges and goals now await the winery, strengthened by its solid, long-standing identity and a production philosophy inextricably linked to the territory.

" La Versa is an icon. A brand that excites and engages people. It’s the expression of an entire region well-suited to growing wine "

Andrea Giorgi, La Versa president

The cellar: rest and perfection

Entering the La Versa cellar is an experience that you will never forget. It is an immersive journey. Here, you can get a sense of the winery’s work. The Traditional Method wines are laid down here, left to refine on selected yeasts for years until disgorging. An almost deafening silence reigns, accompanying the delicate sparkling wine process in contact with its most alive part. Bottles carefully stacked up in a row. Ready for riddling. A cellar rich in history where the Traditional Method achieves ultimate perfection.