The Francoli distillery and Torraccia del Piantavigna winery lie on the main road out of the small town of Ghemme (pronounced ‘Ghem-Ay’) in north west Italy. Ghemme lies in the shadow of the Monte Rosa mountains, just off the A26 which leads north to Lake Maggiore and the even closer the beautiful Lake Orta. Nestled in the foothills of the Italian Alps, Ghemme is 80km (50 miles) northwest of Milan, just inside the Piemonte wine region, close to the border with the Lombardy region.
Through their Torraccia del Piantavigna winery, the Francoli family have vineyards in Ghemme and the neighbouring Gattinara, both DOCG areas within the Piemonte region, primarily growing Nebbiolo grapes (known locally as Spanna).
The Ghemme vineyards (approx 6 hectares/15 acres) are hilly with heavy clay alluvial soil and a low pH producing wine with good acidity. The climate is cool due to the influence of Monte Rosa, the second-highest mountain in the Alps, just 50 kilometers northwest of Ghemme. DOCG rules require Ghemme wines to be at least 75% Nebbiolo with Vespolina and/or Bonarda Novarese varieties comprising the remainder.
The town of Gattinara lies on the opposite side (west) of the Sesia River some 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Ghemme and here the Francoli family have 4 hectares (10 acres) of vineyards. The Gattinara region is also hilly with a low pH volcanic sandy soil. The microclimate here is a little warmer than Ghemme’s due to the protection of hills on the northern side of Gattinara. DOCG rules require Gattinara wines to comprise at least 96% Nebbiolo with up to 4% Vespolina and/or Bonarda di Gattinara.
Lake Orta and the picturesque town of Orta San Giulio are 30 minutes’ drive (35km/21 miles) to the north. The town’s narrow streets are built on the steep slopes of a hill which forms a peninsula jutting out into the lake. Orta San Giulio overlooks the island of Isola San Giulio and its Benedictine monastery.