Famiglia Olivini, a success story on Lake Garda
If this wonderful lake landscape did not exist, our longing would probably create it, so much poorer are our travel wishes without Lake Garda. And our wine cellars around some fine drops likewise. So how happy we are that it exists, the charming, enchanting hilly landscape with its flashing blue in the middle, the peaks of the Dolomites in the distance and that certain expression of serenity and joie de vivre. And how happy we are all the more that it is exactly there that we find ourselves, on Lake Garda.
To be more precise, to its southernmost tip, near Desenzano, in the heart of the Lugana. Here, the Olivini family has owned vineyards on the most beautiful slopes for many generations. And they have created a small wine sensation with the Trebbiano di Lugana, which until then was rather inconspicuous, pleasing, but rather labeled as mediocre. In only a few years, the winery has succeeded to rise among the best autochthonous Spumanti in Italy with their foaming wine. Thereby, the competition to the nearby Franciacorta was not exactly small. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. And the Olivinis are certainly winners. Farm and land have been in the family for generations, the oldest vines are over 50 years old. But own wine has not been produced in the old monastery building for so long, the grapes used to be given to other wineries. Since 1999, this has changed, fundamentally and rapidly. A new wind is blowing through the old monastery building on the shores of the lake, the young have taken over the scepter. Or rather, Graziella and Giulio Olivini have handed it over to their three children Giovanni, Giorgio and Giordana. Or rather put it in their hearts. Since then, things have been running smoothly on the estate; together, the Olivini siblings have made the winery one of the leading wineries on Lake Garda.
We are warmly welcomed by Signora Graziella, full of pride she enjoys the success of the children and does not miss the opportunity to be there. It is immediately clear how much passion she feels for this piece of land and the wine that grows on it. Our reception committee grows, Giovanni and Giordana join us. And then Antonio Crescini, Olivini's chief oenologist, joins us. He is modest and a rather quiet man. And as it is often the case, still waters run deep: His meticulous work is to be thanked for the great success; with his passion for the Lugana, he has managed to give the wine estate and the old variety new splendor, and this far beyond the border of Lake Garda. His wines convince with a successful mixture of fineness and intensity, they are fresh and filigree.
We quickly learn that quality is the top priority, and everyone agrees on that. This starts with the care of the vines, continues with the hand-picked harvest and of course also includes the cellar. The family points to the large construction pit, we have already marveled at it on the approach. A new cellar is being built, innovation needs space. And investment. Giovanni says it clearly: "We will soon establish ourselves among the leading producers of the Veneto and Lombardy." The signs are good, not only the famous striped labels are copied. "It was funny at the beginning, when we came up with the modern labels, for a long time we were just called the Stripe Wine. It was so catchy that many are now copying that design. When you're copied, it's also a compliment, then you've done something right and you're also noticed by your competitors." It wasn't like that from the beginning. Many couldn't understand why they were investing so much energy and time in a sparkling wine right now, both Proseccoland and Franciacorta are so close. Giovanni smiles mischievously. "They said, 'You don't have the experience or the right grapes.' That spurred us on." Winemaker Antonio also smiles. Meanwhile, the sparkling wine from the Lugana is a success story, about 30 percent of the 220,000 bottles are vinified as spumante in the classic champagne method, and the tests with a rosé also look promising.
"We will soon establish ourselves among the leading producers of Veneto and Lombardy."
And the fame of the Olivinis and their sparkling wines benefits the reputation of the Lugana. Even though the light white wine from the hills of the southern Lake Garda was one of the first wines in Italy to be recognized as a DOC wine, it was mostly quite quiet about it. With its Spumante variant, this has changed abruptly.
We stand in one of the precious vineyards on a slope and look over the old vines, not only the owners' gaze becomes soft and rapturous. Here, cultural and agricultural tradition grows, meticulously nurtured and transformed into wine with the help of the most modern technology. As with the education of children, the individual character traits are encouraged and space is left for their development. And yet, in the end, they all show the family signature. Unmistakably identified as Olivini striped wines.