History of Cinzano

Words by Simon Difford

The famous logo with the word 'CinZano' in white in a rectangular box slashed through the middle, with blue standing for nobility and red for passion, first appeared in 1925.

Cinzano's history dates back to 1707 when Giovanni Cinzano was granted an Appaltatori di si Sua Altezza Reale (Royal Warrant or licence) by the Duke of Savoy to distil eaux-de-vie to make brandy and cordials for sale in Turin and his village of Pecetto Torinese, which lies about 7 kilometres (4½ miles) southeast of Turin. He also became a member of the confectioners and distillers guide.

On 6th January 1757, Giovanni Cinzano's two sons - Giovanni Giacamo Cinzano and Carlo Stefano Cinzano, were invested as Master Distillers in the University of Confectioners and Spirits Manufacturers. This "university" was one of many guilds established by Duke Carl Emmanuele III to oversee and ensure the quality of goods and services provided by traders. Carlo Stefano went on to be a councilman of the guild and eventually its director in 1769.

With the approval and guarantee of quality implied by their induction to the guild, the two brothers set up their own distillery and shop in Pecetto.

Giovanni's son, Carlo Giuseppe (born 1755) continued the family distilling business and it's his son, Francisco who in 1816, aged 29, relocated the business to Turin opening a shop on the city's most fashionable street, via Dora Grossa (now via Garibaldi). This move to Turin is perhaps not uncoincidentally the year after the death of Antonio Benedetto Carpano, a rival distiller in Turin credited with the creation of vermouth. In his new shop, Cinzano sold eaux-de-vie, liqueurs, and, crucially, vermouth, the fortified wine previously made by Carpano that had become Turin's beverage of choice. His son, Francesco II, took over the company in 1859 and expanded overseas, with great success in France and Latin America.

Enrico Cinzano, Francesco's son, acquired 'Il Moscatello', the palatial villa of King Carlo Alberto of Savoy, in 1893 and began enlarging the network of wine cellars dug out of the limestone hillside. Today, these form the largest cellar network in Italy and the property is still the company's headquarters. Enrico was the last male to carry the Cinzano name, but his daughter married Alberto Marone, whose descendants are still involved in the House of Cinzano, which is now owned by Gruppo Campari.

It is not actually known when Cinzano first started making vermouth, but a 1940s advertising campaign for Cinzano in the United States in Life Magazine proudly boasts, "Since the day – over a century ago – when a member of the Cinzano family first came upon its magic formula – this magnificent vermouth has spread to the four corners of the earth." The "over a century ago" reference suggests Cinzano was making vermouth prior to 1840. Indeed, it is almost certain Francisco was selling his own vermouth when he opened his shop in Turin in 1816. However, there we know of no evidence that Giovanni Giacamo Cinzano and Carlo Stefano Cinzano started making vermouth in 1757 as is claimed by some, and if that was the case, then surely that 1940s advertisement would proudly boast 'over two centuries'.


Status: Operational
Established: 1757
Owner: Gruppo Campari
Capacity: Not supplied
Visitor Policy: Not generally accessible
Address: Torino
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