Rustic Unusual

The ancient wine cellar of the Confraternita del Prosecco

The secrets of the oldest winery in Valdobbiadene

by Lavinia Colonna Preti
The ancient wine cellar of the Confraternita del Prosecco — Veneto Secrets

Since 1946, the ancient cellar of the Varaschin Brunoro family has been the HQ of the Prosecco Confraternity where, among centenary legends, the best bottle of Spumante Valdobbiadene DOCG is elected every year. Let's go and discover its secrets and how to visit it.

The story of the ancient wine cellar begins in the second half of the 19th century when the Brunoro’s family begins to produce refermented prosecco at home, right in the center of San Pietro di Barbozza. Pioneers of his trade, in the 1920s they were the first to label it, when it was still produced only for self-consumption, and, around 1930, Isidoro Brunoro, a passionate oenologist, created the first “professional” winery in the area next to his house, together with Giuliano Bortolomiol, Umberto Bortolotti and Mario Geronazzo.

In 1946, with the help of other oenologists, they gave life to the Confraternity of Prosecco di Valdobbiadene with the noble goal of helping the territory to recover after the Second World War thanks to the protection and enhancement of its main fruit, Prosecco. As the HQ of the Confraternity they choose the vaulted aging cave, dating back to 1931, part of the Brunoro family cellar.

The ancient wine cellar of the Confraternita del Prosecco — Veneto Secrets
The ancient wine cellar of the Confraternita del Prosecco — Veneto Secrets

I like to revive in the people I welcome in our Cellar and in the Osteria all the extraordinary emotions experienced in these hills.

(Manuel Cortigiano, Varaschin’s family)

Meanwhile, Emma Brunoro falls in love with Matteo Varaschin, who in the 1930s had given birth to his own farm, and, by getting married, they lay the foundations for the union of the two families and their important winemaking history. Today, in fact, the Confraternita’s HQ is located inside Casa Brunoro, the tasting room of the Cantine Varaschin.

The suggestive cave is accessed through a small door topped by an emblematic Latin inscription “Hac ad cellam vinariam descensus cave ne incertus ascendas” (once you enter this wine cellar, the exit will be uncertain), chosen with acute irony by the founders of the Confraternita. Crossing its threshold is a very strong emotion: it will be for the intoxicating scent, the walls full of old bottles and historical relics, but above all for the amazement that arouse the beautiful allegorical frescoes created in 1966 by the artist Gigi Cappellin that cover the vaults.

The ancient wine cellar of the Confraternita del Prosecco — Veneto Secrets

The main one, on the left wall in the center, shows the team of young entrepreneurs and winemakers who in 1946 laid the foundations for the future fortune of Valdobbiadene’s “yellow gold” with great vision. In fact, from the right, dressed in red, we can spot the house owner Isidoro Brunoro, the first Grand Master, Umberto Bortolotti, Piero Berton, Nino Franco, Mario Geronazzo oenologist and distiller, Giuliano Bortolomiol and Carlo Biasiotto.

Today there are about 150 members who are part of the Confraternity of Valdobbiadene, custodians, among others, of a beautiful tradition born in 1969: once a year each of them brings an anonymous bottle of Spumante Valdobbiadene DOCG which participates in a blind tasting that ends with the election of the best one. The year 1969 is not accidental: in fact, it is the year of the recognition of the DOC denomination for Prosecco di Valdobbiadene, which later became DOCG in 2009.
Of the selected wine, 5,000 numbered bottles with the Confraternity label are produced with the aim of providing the consumer with a reference point for the evaluation and knowledge of the best Valdobbiadene DOCG.

The ancient wine cellar of the Confraternita del Prosecco — Veneto Secrets

There are many secrets and stories that are hidden among the vaults of this historic wine cellar. From the hole in the ceiling, from which the Brunoro family once lowered the wine produced on the upper floor into the cave to let it rest in fermentation at the perfect temperature, constant 15 degrees, to being the protagonist of the famous film Finchè c’è Prosecco c’è Speranza, up to the many allegories present in the subjects of the frescoes.

Today it is Manuel, the fourth generation of the Varaschin family, who manages with great passion both Casa Brunoro and the guided tours of the confraternity’s wine cellar. He will tell you these and other wonders not without letting you taste the wines produced by his winery, including two real gems: Orfeo 1969 Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Rive di Santo Stefano Millesimato Brut and Vin Santo Ultima Ua, 100% Glera grape, produced by more than 100 years with the same secret family recipe.

The ancient wine cellar of the Confraternita del Prosecco — Veneto Secrets

In the summer, Casa Brunoro awaits you every day, except Tuesdays, while from November 1st it is open from Thursday to Sunday, in the morning and in the evening for aperitifs and snacks. Whilst for guided tours and tastings, available as well as for the Wine Cellar also for the adjacent Prosecco Museum, reservations are required.

If you really want to immerse yourself in the history of Prosecco and these extraordinary lands, this is definitely the place to visit!

The Secret

Almost a hundred years have passed since the first labeled bottle of Prosecco di Valdobbiadene which dates back to 1923, and today it is still possible to see it in the place of its birth at Casa Brunoro inside a display case located in the tasting room right at the entrance to the wine cellar.

Useful Info

Cantine Varaschin
Casa Brunoro & Cella Vinaria
Strada Chiesa 10
31049 Valdobbiadene, Treviso
Tel. +39 0423 973553

Selection of meats and cheese platters: small 8 euro, large from 16 euro
Glass of Prosecco: 3 euro
Glass of Cartizze: 4 euro

Visit to the Cellar and tasting of 3 wines: 15 euro
Visit to the Cellar and the Wine Museum, tasting of 4 wines and a platter of cheeses and cold cuts: 30 euro

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