For many years I indulged in the fantasy of producing good wine on Lake Orta, and even though I was totally absorbed by my main job as responsible of an Italian design factory, I’ve always had this fantasy in a corner of my heart. So, when I knew that the Cascina Eugenia at Pratolungo was on sale, I realized that the time had come, and a new adventure was about to begin.
At that time, in the early 2000s, Laura and I were looking for a place to build our home: what could be better than living in the middle of the vineyards, on the slopes descending towards the lake, looking onto one of the most beautiful views of the island of San Giulio? Although the complex of buildings was much bigger than we needed, encouraged by Luigi Veronelli, a longtime friend and advisor of Alessi, we started our wine adventure with a certain degree of thoughtlessness.
Gradually I realized that, as has happened in my other adventures, the story that I had started to create was paradoxical, it tended to deviate from the usual connotations of similar ventures. Indeed, I wasn’t and have never been a winemaker or a viticulturist, although I dreamed of making a good wine. In my mind the business was not my main objective, although I was aware of the fact that in the long-term it would be inevitable to deal with profit and loss. Instead, I was more interested, I would say, in the literary structure that was coming to life: to live in a rural dimension away from what had been my life until then, to know and grow vines with the aim of making very good wine, to live in that magnificent place looking towards the island of San Giulio on my beloved Lake Orta.
Building a global project around an aesthetic idea that, yes, concerned the quality of the wine, but also all the things that would surround it, such as the architecture, the wine cellar, the bottle, the graphic of the labels, the packaging, the website, in short, all the aspects of its communication and its fruition.
Virtually I realize that we have worked on a kind of gesamtkunstwerk sui generis, or rather on the oblivious invention of a new literary genre made up of tales, historical research, news, aesthetics, image and of course, wine. Maybe even a kind of open work in which have been called to recite some of the authors and the characters who have been close to us in this decade. Each of them has played a part in this story: Alessandro and Francesco Mendini with Alex Mocica and Alessandro Ciapponi, creators of the architectural design, Luigi Veronelli, instigator angel of the wine-making enterprise; Jacques Mell, expert in biodynamics, Alberto Gozzi gastronome and unparalleled help in the difficult moments, Christian Prudhomme, Patrizio Gasparinetti and Monica Rossetti, agronomic and oenological consultants; Marti Guixè, creator of the graphics of the labels and the website; Giacomo Giannini, with the art films on the Cascina Eugenia; Gianfranco and Anna Gasparini, inventors and designers of the very complex furniture to accommodate the bottles in the cellar … not to mention Leonardo who gave me the “la” for the design of the Leo bottle, which I will speak of later, nor of the friends who have accompanied us and given a willing hand in times of need: Alberto, Giancarlo, Fanny, Vincenzo, Paola, Giorgio, Bruno, Lucia, Andrea …
But let’s proceed step by step.