The history of the winery began in 1800 with Bartolomeo Zeni, a professional carter with a passion for painting. He would carry the local goods, namely fish, olive oil and wine, towards the villages along the shore of Lake Garda and towards those of the neighbouring Lombardy region.
Among all the carried goods, wine was the one he was mostly familiar with, to such an extent that, beside carting it, he started trading it. Bartolomeo's business was then carried on by his son Gaetano, who began taking his first steps as wine broker. Thanks to Francesco, Gaetano's eldest son and himself father of 7 children, the Zeni family's offspring inherited not only the family name, but also the strong passion for farming. The following passing of the family business to the two brothers Faustino and Ernesto meant a gradual evolution of the productive tradition towards its future commercial development. All the duties concerning the wine production process were shared out between the two brothers: Faustino was, in fact, in charge of the vineyard operations, whereas Ernesto oversaw the vinification procedures inside the family's small winery located at n.16 of via Garibaldi, in the heart of an old suburb of Bardolino.
The Zeni family's aptitude for wine is also mentioned in a book by Romano Brusco, a genuine inhabitant of Bardolino, deeply attached to his hometown and proud of its talented people: "I Zeni, del Borgo, se sa', ie' zente speciale: estrosi, brilanti co'n' pò de stroerso, zente taia' per far el comercio e vini nostrani ch'i ie' na bontà" (The Zeni people, we all know that, are special chaps: creative, brilliant, cut out for business and for making local wines that are a real delicacy!).
The spread of the wine trade in the second post-war period meant for the Zeni family an increase in the demand for wine, especially from the foreign markets with which the family had been collaborating for a long time. The firm's turning point came when Gaetano succeeded in the family business after his father's death and went into partnership with his uncle Ernesto. Gaetano expressed his desire to radically change the firm's productive philosophy: the focus would still have been kept on the production of quality wine, but he thought it was necessary to abandon the habit of mixing grapes coming from different vineyards. From now on the grapes from the different wine areas would have been vinified separately. Furthermore, factors such as pedoclimatic conditions, density of planting and year of planting would have become some of the main quality references affecting the whole wine production process.
The year 1966 saw the firm undergoing a new stage of constant wine quality improvement along with an overall technological development of the winery equipment. Beginning from 1989, after uncle Ernesto's death, Gaetano took full responsibility of the family business management to which he enthusiastically devoted himself by bringing continuous innovation.
The firm's philosophy espoused by Gaetano Zeni is pursued today, still with the same great enthusiasm and dedication, by his children, Fausto, Elena and Federica, who succeeded in the family business after their father's death. They all inherit their father's bond with the land, the passion for the vine and a natural aptitude for business.
The Zeni winery is located and operates in Bardolino, on the slopes of the morainic hills along the eastern shore of Lake Garda. It's here, in the very heart of the vinegrowing area of the homonymous Bardolino wine, that the carefully selected grapes, coming from both privately owned and long-term lease vineyards, are conveyed. The Winery also buys selected parcels of grapes from trusted local grape growers with whom it maintains enduring collaborations. Only the best grapes can result in wines with such a distinctive character that are true expressions of a unique terroir.
The meticulous care devoted to the growing of the vine, the grape raisining and the following vinification is also paid to the aging and refining of the great wines, as further testified by the realization of the stunning underground barrique cellar. The steady improvement both in the production processes and in the firm management made the winery fully eligible to obtain the UNI ISO 9001:2000 quality certification. The enthusiastic commitment and the constant dedication to the art of winemaking passed on from generation to generation represent still today the principles of a consolidated over century-old familiar tradition.