A thousand years in Valpolicella
When I remember my hill, I see it all in the sun. A rectangle of land starts from the bottom of the valley and goes up to the very top of the hill on the ridge between the Marano valley and that of Negrar. The major sides of the rectangle - two steep almost parallel grooves dug by the waters - form the border with other properties. The slightly flattened summit enables a view of both valleys. Descending the hill, you immediately see the tall, isolated cypress, like a vigilant sentinel. Its trunk is scratched by thunderbolts: then a water main; then a group of four cypresses. The gravel road now winds in wide turns, mostly very steep, but here and there with gentle slopes.
A. Benedetti, Brigaldara. A hill, a house, a family
A millenary vocation to the vine
The toponym "Brigaldara", "Bragadara" or "Bragaldara" appeared for the first time in the XII century in some deeds of sale where people were qualified as "inhabitants" of the area. Located on the foothills of Monte Masua, between San Floriano and Valgatara, in the middle of the Marano Valley, there was a farmhouse, vocated since time immemorial to the cultivation of vines, olive trees, fruit trees and cereals.
1200 - 1400
Terra arativa cum vineis
In the XIII century, Brigaldara passed under the Augustinian monastery of Sant'Eufemia in Verona, which held it until the XV century. The parchments of Santa Eufemia - through donations, sales and succesions - reveal the ancient history of the farmhouse. The estate is often cited as an "arativa cum vineis et olivis" land, a vocation that Brigaldara will not stop claiming throughout its millennial history.
Brigaldara: «thirty fields, with vineyards and meadows»
In 1653, the cost accountant of Verona announced that Brigaldara had changed hands. Leaving the monastery of Sant'Eufemia, it is now owned by the Fontana Brothers, perhaps an illustrious noble family from Verona, proprietor, among other things, of the sumptuous chapel of Santa Maria in Organo. Interesting is the catalog provided by the cost accountant, which confirms the wine-growing nature of the estate in the Municipality of San Fiorano, "called Bragaldara, with houses of owners and workers, thirty arable fields with vineyards and meadows". The lands surrounding the farmhouse had to be well kept, fruitful and carefully cultivated: a few years later, in 1682, Fontana declared that the revenue from Brigaldara was 120 ducats, while a few years earlier it was only 70.
«Beautiful and in good quality»
In 1714, burdened by debts of unclear nature, Giacomo Fontana sold the property to «Signora Margherita» Giacomo Locatelli's wife. Fontana, still indebted with the monastery of Sant'Eufemia, a few years later will be forced by the cenobites to deliver a "barrel of beautiful and in good quality grapes, at his own expenses, including duties". This is a curious but important piece of news, because the properties indicated are those in Rugolin, just a stone's throw from Brigaldara, an indication of viticulture seen as an increasingly specialized and qualitatively appreciated discipline.
The Austrian Land Registry of the early XIX century sets the estate as we see it today. There is the manor house of the XVI century surrounded by meadows, woods, olive trees and, above all, the "flat and hillside vineyards", that confirm today's layout: on the top, the vineyards of Monte Masua, marked by the so called marogne (dry-stone terraces), and at its feet, those in the flatland plot. In 1873, Giuseppe Fraccaroli's restructuring project, will give the estate its current appearance.
Azienda agricola Brigaldara is born
The XX century marks the beginning of Brigaldara as we know it today. In 1928, Renzo Cesari purchases Brigaldara. With his son Lamberto, he specializes in viticulture with love and passion. The greatest impulse takes place in the 80s, when the direction passes into the hands of Stefano, Renzo's grandson, who starts a long-lasting collaboration with Roberto Ferrarini, perhaps one of the most important innovators in the history of Amarone and Valpolicella. In 1997, Brigaldara's Amarone is awarded for the first time the Tre Bicchieri Gambero Rosso.
A fresh start
Stefano Cesari and his sons Lamberto and Antonio initiate a profound renewal of the production methods and of the cellar. They promote a rational arrangement of the vineyards, specializing each one of them according to the most suitable varieties for each area. In addition to the properties around the villa in San Floriano, we have the vineyards in Marano, where Corvina and Corvinone are cultivated; the Case Vecie vineyard, in Grezzana, dedicated to a special "Amarone Vigne Alte - High-hill Amarone"; the Cavolo vineyard, also in Grezzana, dedicated to the production of an Amarone with delicate floral notes; and the new vineyards in Marcellise, where the autochthonous vines of Valpolicella found their home: Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and the rediscovered native variety of Oseleta.
Today Brigaldara covers ca. 120 hectares of land, 47 of which are planted with vineyards, while the rest is mainly olive groves, crops, pastures and woods.
An extraordinary and unique biodiversity, a real agricultural organism that the company has decided to respect and enhance through sustainable practices, both in the vineyard and in the cellar. Brigaldara interprets Valpolicella in its most authentic nuances, bringing in the bottle a heterogeneous viticultural heritage, summa and richness of a vocated territory for over a thousand years.