famiglia vellano
La Famiglia Vellano

The history of our winery has very ancient origins: it begins with the descent of king Charles V in Italy in the sixteenth century. Our family, of Burgundian origin, followed the emperor, who was at war against the French king Francis I. Thanks to our services during the war, we got some landholdings in Monferrato. This landholdinghs, because of their natural vocation, were immediately covered with vineyards. The first wine cellar was carved into the rock (called tufo or pietra da cantoni) in the middle of the vineyards, where traces of the ancient settlement are still visible, and was used until the end of the seventeenth century, when a second wine cellar was built in the village beside one of the family houses. This second wine cellar was used until 1867 and is today the site of the spa Acquavitae: here, traces of the old winecellar are the blower stations, with the old winemaking press containing a small hydromassage tub, and the waterfall in the pool coming out from an old cellar tool.

Acquavitae

Nowaday, in Acquavitae it’s possible to have a relaxing time among the heated indoor pool, the bath in the cave, the wood bio sauna and the relaxation area with herbal teas and fresh fruit. Furthermore, you can enjoy treatments such as wine therapy (wine bath), relaxing bath with herbs, hay bath, various massages.

In the same 1867, my ancestor Dionigi Damonte ushered in the third cellar, called Cantinone (big cellar), because it consisted of three connected cellars: Dionigi had built it for his three grandnephew, who were unable to work in harmony and cooperation, therefore he reluctantly had to build for each of them its own wine cellar.Here, during the restoration works of about ten years ago in order to obtain what is today the Osteria,  an Egyptian statue of the sixth century B.C. representing the god Osiris was found.

 

Egyptian statue found.

This statue embodies the link between the Monferrato and the Ancient Egypt. Osiris was the god of the regeneration, the underworld, ruler of the dead, the guarantor of human survival and it was also the god of wine. It’s represented standing, mummiform, with false beard. On his head are the Atef crown and the uraeus. In the hands holds the symbols of the power of kings: the scepter hekat and nekhakh scourge. The statue was hidden in the cellar, under the floor, covered with various kinds of materials.

Damonte, our ancestors who built the cellars in which we found the statue, was a priest and traveled to the Middle East and the Holy Land as an apostolic missionary. Here he is aware of a curious character, ambiguous and fascinating: Giambattista Boetti, who was born like him in Camino, in June 2, 1743 and died in the Solovetsky Monastery in 1798 *. Upon returning from his travels, Dionigi become parson in his native village. He went to live in the former Boetti home, where he found some old letters that led him to write a biography of Boetti. We are in 1882.

 

 

Osiri, Lotu, Gioanot

The discovery of the statue of the god Osiris is very intriguing. Although you can not tell if it belonged to Boetti or has been purchased from Damonte, however it is a clear will to put an image of the god of the wine as a protection for the cellar, where the wine is made and ages: those moments of production in ancient Egypt symbolized the myth of this deity. It’s quite likely that my ancestor was trying in that Egyptian deity’s an help to create dialogue and cooperation between the three quarrelsome brothers…

We are in 1940, my great-grandfather Maurice (from which I take the name), called Lotu, dies: the nickname might suggest a diminutive or a term of endearment, but actually he was a big man of 130 kg and 190 cm high… He was famous because he was able to pour wine from a big 12-liter bottle into a glass without letting a single drop to fall off. Unfortunately, the estate is divided among the eight sons, decreasing a lot in size and prestige; my side of the family inherits an eighth (picture family) of the land and some houses, and my grandfather Giovanni (called Gioanot, that means young guy) is the only one who decides to continue the winemaking activities, activities later expanded by my father Pierino (called Pierin). He builds a new winery in the valley below, inaugurated in 1961, to exploit better the increased company size. It’s the period of the economic boom, Italy lives a happy moment where everything seems to expand without end, and in the same year, 1961, me, Maurizio,  the only son, I’m born.

 

Maurizio Vellano

Everything is going well until 1986, the year of the methanol scandal: the industry of Italian wine is overwhelmed, everything is questioned. The image of the wine world collapses, and with it the certainties and the old landmarks. They are dark years, in which a sort of McCarthyism grows up: every wine producer is pilloried and held up as the worst villain. It takes 20 years to return to the glories of the past, but in the meantime the values and rules of the market have completely changed.

My dad Pierin does not want me to work in the winery, although in his heart I think he cared, and invites me to do anything else. After finishing my studies, I become passionate about informatics and I open a software house. After a few years I enter the industry of car electronics and I set up a company that soon becomes a world leader in the sector. During the long periods abroad I observe the evolution of the US market, especially in the tourist wine marketing industry. Back in Italy, thanks to the experience acquired, I transform the family winery Pierino Vellano into Cà San Sebastiano Wine Resort SPA, which becomes the testing ground for ideas, new products and solutions.