Wine Stories Jessica Bordoni

Latest generation Barolo. Valentina Abbona in the footsteps of Juliette

Latest generation Barolo. Valentina Abbona in the footsteps of Juliette

Everyone has the legends they deserve. Valentina Abbona, sixth generation to head the Marchesi di Barolo winery, grew up with the legend of the French noblewoman Juliette Colbert de Maulévrier, wife of Marquess Carlo Tancredi Falletti, and a central figure in the history of the winery, as well as in the whole of vinegrowing in the Langhe region.

The winery was born from the undertaking of a woman

“When I was a child, my parents often told me her story, which literally left me bewitched,” Valentina told us. “At the start of the nineteenth century, Juliette married and moved to Piedmont. She straightaway understood the huge potential of the Nebbiolo grape and devoted herself personally to building a large winemaking and ageing cellar…
And so Barolo wine was born and named after the place. I find it fascinating to think that it all started with a woman. In 1929 my ancestor Pietro Abbona bought the palace and land and now my father Ernesto runs it with my mother, Anna, who devote themselves passionately to the family winery.”

Valentina Abbona, from student to export manager

If Valentina keeps one eye on the past and the illustrious tradition, the other looks towards the future and abroad, in search of new importers and consolidating the main markets. “My role is marketing and export manager. Marchesi di Barolo exports wines to about 65 countries, but obviously I don’t follow them all directly. The focus is mainly on the United States, Canada and Central America, with a few stopovers in Asia. I am away from home between 180 and 200 days a year, but for the moment it is not a burden, quite the opposite. Every trip is a unique experience, which leaves me with indelible and very different memories. Travelling is a great privilege.”

A passion for travelling

The passion for travelling is a constant in Valentina’s life, dating back to before she started working. “After studying science at secondary school in Alba, I moved to Milan to study business economics at Bocconi University, where I graduated in 2012. My university years enabled me to have many different experiences all over the world: Manchester, New York, Hyderabad in India, Shanghai. I had the chance to see very many wineries and business models which were often extremely different: it was very educational.”

The tie with home

One day, while Valentina was in China, her mother Anna asked her to return to Italy to work alongside her. “That period together was enlightening: it enabled me to rediscover our situation on a national level and to see the business dynamics of the winery first-hand. I decided to go back home, to settle in Barolo and start working alongside my parents.” Marchesi di Barolo is one of the most prestigious wineries in the Langhe. It has premises in Barolo, in the building opposite the castle of the Falletti Marquesses, where it all started over 200 years ago.

The Great Barolo crus: a family heritage

“Our wine production concentrates on the Nebbiolo variety, which produces great DOCG Barolo Crus,” Valentina explains. “Our mission is to produce wines of the highest quality, thanks to an important heritage of vines and cellar knowledge handed down from generation to generation.” In total, 201 hectares of vineyards, some owned by us and other belonging to historic vinegrowers who supply us with grapes. After Valentina joined the winery, it’s now her brother Davide Abbona’s turn: born in 1994, he is about to finish his studies. “After studying at the oenological institute in Alba, Davide is now attending the Catholic University in Milan to become the linguistic expert of the winery. He is very good, I know that his contribution will be invaluable, too.”

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