Here is an amazing set-up, built to last and most certainly grow. I spend a lot of time visiting wineries and Val D’Oca has one of the most innovative set-ups I have seen, a smooth operation which is both highly impressive though in a positive way it scares you at the same time seeing such progress in action. From empty bottle to packaged up and ready on the pallet is more or less all automated. How the bottled wines are being stored will also blow your mind as trams drive pallets of boxed wines to a central storage system where a separate mechanical picker will go about its business storing and collecting orders for the varied customers / drivers.
Val D’Oca is a cooperative winery working with 600 growers and covering some 950 hectares within the region of Valdobbiadene. I counted 27 variety of wines they produce including 25 sparkling with 9 carrying the Superiore label. Born in 1952 with an initial membership of 159 growers and the full name of the cooperative is ‘La Cantina Produttori di Valdobbiadene Val D’Oca.
We should not be concerned nor dismiss such a large organisation for not having the same attention to detail and caring as small producers. At Val D’Oca there has been a tremendous recent investment into the continuation to produce Superiore quality with quantity that their members require – Val D’Oca purchases grapes from a close family of 600 regional producers, working with each one to deliver the best prices for their grapes grown and knowing each member and their location perfectly in order to style their own wines with the varied characteristics produced from across the Valdobbiadene area.
I was kindly shown around by President Franco Varaschin and also Export Manager Lorenzo Rispoli, who kindly did the translating for me, and it was a most enlightening tour which was impressive, both in size and how smooth each operation was to the quality of the wines at the end of the tour – Mixing huge quantity with high quality is not always easy, but just like internationally known aspirational brands such as Rolex or Ferrari, it is within the same philosophy, we need to produce the high numbers to cope with consumer demands yet we can not in any way compromise on quality as our brand is built on it.
The winery itself is huge, built to cope with the demands of Val D’Oca’s global sales, the grounds allow for the busy period of harvest to include deliveries of grapes, the weighing and testing to crushing and storing of juice. We took a tour of the outside steel tanks which were able to hold millions of bottles of awaiting to be Prosecco along with a walk around the bottling area where an endless and uninterrupted production line was in action.
Nothing overly new here, but then the very new storage area was shown to myself and Silvia Benedet from the Prosecco Consortium, who kindly accompanied me on the visit. Here is a great system in place, where pallets are carried along with mechanical carriages and stored in a large warehouse capable of holding an impressive 7 thousand pallets and four million bottles. This warehouse was huge and you felt you were in one of those innovative Amazon storage centres where everything is fully automatised to include picking orders – A big investment by Val D’Oca.
With all the automation and big numbers in front of us we then ended up in the tasting room which, to be honest, for most of us, will be where the real test of quality takes place – Can you really produce fine wines under such a great strain of production volume?
Cartizze is in their range which is important for us lovers of fine Prosecco, which they manage 10 hectares of grapes from producing 100,000 bottles, and it was crisp and dry with a fine biscuit, green/yellow apple and pear nose. Taste was complex with slight honeycomb, ripe red apples and pears with a smooth sweet finish.
I also tasted the Brut and Extra Dry which showed good consistency with yeasty/chalky nose and full of fruits mostly pear/peach. Taste was again smooth and crisp with red apples / pears and hints of caramel / brown sugar.