On Tuesday November 8 th 2016, the group Palazollo Erasmus+ visited the winery Contadi Castaldi at Adro. Castaldi is a winemaker in the region of Franciacorta. In Franciacorta, the name of the region, the method of producing and the name of the wine are one and the same. Franciacorta is a champenoise wine, fermentated twice, in the bottle. Many companies in this area produce Franciacorta nowadays. Castaldi has a production of about 1.5million bottles a year. The kind of grapes they use are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. They are picked manually. It takes 3 years to produce a bottle of Franciacorta. After the Second World War, the Franciacorta area was very poor, and people were looking desperately for new ways to earn money. After serious research it was found that the glacier soil is very rich and suitable to produce wine (whilst before there were many difficulties farming the same area!). This indeed turned out to be a wise choice, and from 1961 they produced wine in this area. From thereon, in the nineties a special champenoise method was developed, named Franciacorta!
After the first period in the steel barrels, the wine is bottled for first fermentation, and crowned with a metal cap. After the second fermentation the residue in the neck of the bottle is frozen, removed and refilled with a bit of extra special wine, and closed with a traditional cork. Franciacorta wine is mostly traded within Italy (85%), with only 15% for exports. The homeland consumption is concentrated in the north of Italy (60%). With a starting price of €15, this is a wine for connoisseurs and those who love it. This might be the reason this wine is not very known outside Italy (yet). Franciacorta is now a synonym for vino spumante from the Franciacorta region. Other wines from the same region mention the name of the grape, not the method of producing.
As Erasmus+ aims for developing work capacity in the EU, this was a very inspiring visit. The development of Franciacorta wine seems to have been one big opportunity for employment! This was underlined by the story of a young wine farmer later that evening, who had a testimony on his own new company. He started in 2010 and is expecting his first bottles of wine early 2017.
The countries participating in this Erasmus project, maybe with the exemption of Ireland, are all involved in a form of producing wine. This visit lead to new insights in starting a company in this sector (the new wines of Corte Fusia) or the growth of a marketshare (Contadi Castaldi wines).
Brewery / Distillery
On Friday afternoon we visited the Palabrahouse Brewery. This brewery was established in October 2001. Originally, there was a German brew master, but he left the company after 4 months. The Brewery’s second brewmaster, also a German, was at the brewery for a further year. It was then that the present brewmaster Nicola Vital took control. Nicola studied brewing at the prestigious Doemens Akademie of Munich. The tour began with Nicola explaining and presenting the different steps involved in the brewing process; the mash preparing, boiling, fermentation, filtration and finally, the packaging. Initially, the beer was only distributed in large kegs, primarily at beer festivals. But in 2013, the brewery began to bottle their product. Now, their beers are available in 0.33, 0.50 and 0.75 litres; in kegs from 10 to 20 liters and in larger tanks from 500 to 1000 liters. These can be bought directly from the brewery or booked for parties and events.
In the beginning alongside the plant, the elite Kaspar – Schulz 10 Hl, there were n.2 fermenters of 10 HL and n.3 10 HL ripeners placed in cells. The current layout includes 2 fermenters of 10 HL, 2 fermenters of 20 Hl, n.3 10 Hl n.10 20 Hl ripeners and 4 horizontal tanks of 10 hl.
At the end of 2013, they contacted a marketing agency to renew their brand logo and their website. In 2014, they created their new bottle production line. In Verona Palabrahouse Brewery took part in the International Trade Fair for the first time. It was very successful. Since the Trade Fair the brewery decided to again change their label, this time from a German style to a new Italian style. The brewery have also been active in more Trade Fairs and exhibitions and are now actively looking to break into the foreign market. As a result of these changes, the breweries business has increased, the demand for their product has rapidly increased. Their current production is more than 1500 hl per year.
- Montessori school
This private school opened two years ago. It has 36 pupils aged from 5 to 8 years old. Parents are very involved in the school and have been the driving force in getting the school established. The school receives support and funding from the David Copperfield Foundation. It does not receive any state aid it is totally financed by the Foundation and parents. The School committee have an initial 4-year plan to develop the school with a vision to develop further. It took six months to find an appropriate building and convince the local authorities and the citizen of Capriolo to accept a Montessori school whose concepts were not widely unknown in the area. However once information about the Montessori school project was distributed to local families and the surrounding communities 18 children registered within a week.
The Montessori curriculum is used to work with the children and it is guided by the Italian national syllabuses. At the end of each school year, each pupil’s level of knowledge is assessed in line with the national standards.
The school day lasts from 8 am to 4 pm. The children have lunch either at home or in their classroom. In the morning the pupils have language activities. They choose their own activities and the teacher guides them when required. There is a ten-minute break during the morning following this there are activities through English this is assisted by an English teacher. The afternoons offer a variety of experiences for the children which include: painting in small groups, Spanish, music, physical education and drama.
At present two of the seven teachers are training to in the Montessori Method and will be qualified by the end of the year. Fees for all parents are € 240 a month and € 370 if the children has lunch at school.
At present they have an additional 45 families interested in the school for next year.
- Fishing net company
The Museo della Rete is a private museum depicting the history of fishing net production on the Isle Monteisola from the 18th century on. Attached to the museum is the only net factory still in use on the island. Until the year 1950, the nets were hand-woven. Then, the first phase of mechanical production began. From 1960 to 1980, the ratio between handmade and machine-produced nets was 50 to 50. Until 30 years ago, hand-knitting women lined the streets of the island.
On the walls of the museum, the history of over 120 years of net production is documented and explained in an interesting way. The materials used for the nets were nylon, polyethylene and cotton (these still being used today). In the course of a short demonstration, the knitting procedure was shown to us. The children of the families, primarily the daughters from the age of 9 years on, had the task of preparing the spools and to learn the knitting techniques.
In the factory existing today, safety nets for construction works, avalanche nets for skiing areas, nets for climbing parks, to name a few, are produced along with from fishing nets. Moreover, nets for soccer goals, hammocks and many other articles are manufactured. The factory still produces hand-woven nets, but these are special commissions.
Before the nets leave the factory they have to undergo a quality test.