The Azienda Agricola Ca'la Bionda is situated in the commune of Marano di Valpolicella, in the heart of the historically "classic" zone of the Valpolicella.
The vineyard area extends over 29 hectares of hillside land at an altitude which ranges between 150 and 300 meters above sea level and with an eastern exposure.
The winery, recently renovated and restructured, was founded in 1902 by Pietro Castellani who was both a passionate and dedicated grape grower and wine-maker.
The Castellani family, currently in its fourth generation, continues with the same commitment and passion the work began by Pietro more than one hundred years ago. All phases of the wine-making process, cultivation of the highest quality grapes, grape harvest, vinification, ageing and marketing are carried out directly by the family. Particular attention and care are given to the delicate process of grape drying or "appassimento" that is essential for the making of Recioto and Amarone, the region's greatest and most noble wines.
The new wine cellar allows us to take advantage of the natural slope of the land with great functionality, thus avoiding the use of pumping systems which are usually needed for moving grapes and wine during the phases of production; following the force of gravity, we work at different levels thus safeguarding the integrity and quality of the product.
The soil is for the greater part of calcareous nature, as marine sediment, and this confers to the wine, given an equal level of acidity, a unique and exceptional longevity and anti-oxidant power: suffice it to think that the average pH value after malolactic fermentation is approximately 3.3.
This characteristic confers to our Amarone wine a totally particular character that distinguishes it and makes it unique and an expression of its territory: the volume and the feelings of sweetness that come from the withering technique are perfectly balanced by this feeling of freshness and by the acidity that makes it delicate, elegant, persistent and not at all cloying.
Process currently the company comprises a total area of thirty hectares, of which twenty-nine are cultivated with vineyard, at an altitude that ranges from 150 to 300 meters, with Eastern exposure.
The company makes wine only from autochthonous grapes (Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Molinara) originating from its own vineyards.
In agriculture we pay great attention to the safeguard and respect for the environment convinced as we are of the fact that future generations will have to live off the cultivation of these lands: for years we have discontinued the use, which is unfortunately widespread, of herbicides to clear weeds, and of polluting and highly toxic pesticides and anticryptogamic agents, for the preservation of the micro-flora of the land, of the water tables and in general directly or indirectly for the safeguard of man's health.
Starting in 1990 all the dry walls (marogne) have been restored, preferring the terracing solution, which guarantees an optimal exposure, to easier and economical excavation solutions which are nowadays feasible thanks to the great progresses in the mechanical field (powerful tractors and excavators etc...) which in the past few years have partly changed the morphology of our hills.
The love for our land, which we consider unique and incomparable, is shared by all the members of our family.
The grape harvest is usually divided into two different times, into two vintages:
- the selection and storage of the grapes used for the production of the Recioto and Amarone wines
The best grapes are chosen from the best vines in the best vintage years and are collected at the ideal time of ripeness, paying particular attention to the wholeness of the fruit in order to avoid the attack from harmful mould that can compromise the quality of the grape during the withering period.
For these reasons the harvest is carried out exclusively in small, 5-to-7 Kg crates where the bunches taken from the vines are immediately placed with excessive care.
The amount of grapes harvested per person in a day is of approximately 700 kg
- the harvest of the grapes used to produce the Valpolicella wine
The Valpolicella wine is produced by using fresh grapes that have not undergone a withering process.
The harvest is usually carried out approximately two weeks later than the harvest for the Amarone wine, thus giving all the grapes the chance to reach optimal ripeness or sometimes even an actual overripeness. The harvest is carried out in large crates that can hold 3 to 5 quintals of product.
The best grapes are selected for the production of the Amarone wine, the bunches are placed on racks called "arelle" to wither for a period that goes from the harvest until January, or the beginning of February.
During these months every grape loses approximately 40% of its weight because of the loss of water and is subjected to physical and chemical transformations that will grant the wine a unique bouquet both at the olfactory and at the taste level, in addition to giving it great concentration.
The grapes used for the production of the sweet wine Recioto are pressed in March.
Amarone is not only technique, but the result of careful selection.
In order to enhance the typicalness and the character of our wines we choose to ferment the must with local yeasts, that is, those naturally present on the grapes, and we avoid clarifications, stabilizations and filtrations.
To us, filtering means making the wine sterile, taking something away, and in general destroying the wine.
The maceration process takes place in steel vats and wooden barrels.
The fermentation temperatures are controlled through an automatic system, which makes warmer or colder water circulate in the interspaces outside the fermentation vat as needed.
We work in the respect of the product and of man's health with extremely low doses of sulphur dioxide, which is nearly nonexistent at the time of bottling (40 - 60 mg/liter).
After the alcoholic fermentation, all Valpolicella Superiore, Amarone and Recioto wines, except for the Valpolicella of that year, are refined for a period of 12 - 48 months in durmast wood barrels with a capacity of 3000, 500 and 225 liters.
The end of the alcoholic fermentation of the Amarone and the Recioto wines and all the malolactic fermentation processes take place in wood.
In all the stages of the production line, from the pressing, to the decanting and up to the bottling, we pay attention to the lunar phases in order to choose the "right" moment.
Refining wines in bottle before their commercialization, by placing them in a dark, suitable place, with optimal and constant temperature and humidity conditions, is of great importance to us.