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Valsangiacomo

Valsangiacomo was founded in 1831 as Ticino's first wine merchant and is a pioneer in supplying high quality Merlot.
Valsangiacomo: the first wine merchant and a Ticino Merlot pioneer.

From wine merchant to winemaker: Valsangiacomo takes over Ticino

Valsangiacomo was first a wine merchant, then a winemaker. For 120 years the family sold wine to the inns and restaurants in Mendrisiotto, before going into wine production themselves in around 1900. To start with, Giovanni Valsangiacomo produced wine from the grapes of local growers. Then in 1954 the family finally created its own agricultural operation and planted the first vineyards. A merchant cultivating their own vineyard – that was a novelty in the Canton of Ticino, and yet over the years the Valsangiacomo became the most innovative and important producer of quality Ticino wines. As well as creating its own wines, Valsangiacomo imported international wines for many years and was one of the most successful companies in the Swiss wine industry. Then in the 1990s the company changed its philosophy and almost completely gave up importing in favour of its own harvest.
Valsangiacomo is still very much a family firm today. It is headed by vintner Uberto Valsangiacomo, representing the sixth generation to run the business. With his team he cultivates 20 hectares of vines in Sottoceneri; they also plan to buy a further 10 hectares in Mendrisiotto, where around three quarters of the grapes for Ticino Merlot are grown. Merlot is also the predominant grape variety at Valsangiacomo.

What sets Valsangiacomo apart as a wine producer

The excellent reputation of the Valsangiacomo winery is a result of the various Merlot varieties it produces each year; to get the best from this exquisite variety, Valsangiacomo ensures the grapes for each vintage are very carefully selected. The classic Merlot is matured traditionally in large wooden barrels, the top selections in barriques made of French oak. You can always rely on classics like Ariete and Roncobello. The latter was incidentally the first wine produced from the Valsangiacomo winery's own grapes in 1958. It was also the first wine in this southern canton to be produced according to what were, at the time, modern oenological concepts, while Rubro, which first came to market in 1988, is considered the perfect example of a barrique-matured Riserva. The Chardonnay and sparkling wine are other specialities worth trying, and Ariete Valsangiacomo bianco heralds a new age in the production of white Merlot. The Valsangiacomo winery produces on average 170,000 bottles of wine each year in total, which are sold throughout most of Switzerland.

A visit to the Valsangiacomo winery

In heritage-filled Mendrisio, which lives up to its affectionate name "il magnifico borgo" – the magnificent town – lies the historic Valsangiacomo wine cellar. The winery moved all its production here in 2004, having restored the building and equipped it with ultra-modern equipment. This means the wines can be produced under the best technological conditions while at the same benefiting from the natural climate of the cellar. The restoration has in no way diminished the building's historic charm, and it is open for pre-arranged wine tastings from Monday to Friday. The Valsangiacomo winery at the foot of Monte Generoso is the perfect waypoint on a wine tour.

Wines from Valsangiacomo