Culture: ‘Ca’ del Bosco is Counterculture,’ Says Maurizio Zanella, Founder, Ca’ del Bosco, European Winery of the Year | Wine Enthusiast’s 2023 Wine Star Awards. | Wine Enthusiast
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‘Ca’ del Bosco is Counterculture,’ Says Maurizio Zanella, Founder, Ca’ del Bosco, European Winery of the Year | Wine Enthusiast’s 2023 Wine Star Awards.

With more than half a century of wine industry history, Ca’ del Bosco continues to push the boundaries of Italian winemaking.

The perfectly clear glass. The sheer golden wrapper. The sculpted calligraphy. Ca’ del Bosco has long captured the imagination of sparkling wine drinkers with its iconic packaging, but it’s what’s in the bottle that counts. And given the evergreen elegance it projects, one might be led to think that the liquid inside is all about tradition—about staying the course and satisfying expectations. But ask founder and chairman Maurizio Zanella for a one-word description of his winery and he’s quick to set the record straight: “Ca’ del Bosco is counterculture.” From the first of its kind high-density plantings in 1971 to the introduction of a unique pressing method in 1995 to going fully organic in 2014—for Zanella, cutting against the grain has been and always will be the defining momentum behind Ca’ del Bosco, and it’s that unapologetic, irreverent attitude that continues to characterize its wines.

Indeed, it was Mr. Zanella’s untamed spirit that got everything started, after his involvement in the 1968 counterculture movements in Italy led him to fall behind in high school and prompted his parents to force him to return to their family farm. Desperate to escape to a more exciting atmosphere, he pitched a trip to France to his still skeptical parents as an opportunity to learn more about winemaking, secretly hoping to use it to be closer to the beating heart of the student rights’ movement. Instead, it brought him to the beating heart of fine winemaking, at the estate of Domaine Romanée-Conti, where he found a viticultural universe turned upside-down. “They were using horses instead of motorized tractors in the vineyards, and the Italians I was with laughed and said, ‘Oh, we’re so much more advanced than this.’” But Zanella understood their disregard for new technologies was not a rejection of the future, but rather an emphasis on terroir and purity of fruit. This is what inspired him. He decided to bring the cool confidence and honest simplicity he witnessed in France back home, convinced that he could use the same methodology to make the wines of Franciacorta shine.

Today, with more than a half century of history under his belt and with Ca’ del Bosco widely recognized as the ultimate point of reference in Italian sparkling wine, Zanella says the winery is focused firmly on honing perfection from excellence. “No more growth, no more extending the reach, just making the most out of what we’ve already accomplished,” he says. Yet as experiments like the exceptional release of a Franciacorta that has enjoyed no less than 42 years on the lees, Ca’ del Bosco is not done pushing back against expectations. Constantly looking to the horizon for the next challenge while consistently delivering the timeless pleasure of quality sparkling wines—it’s not the traditional method, it’s the Ca’ del Bosco method.

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