Annalisa Franco is as close to being “wine aristocracy” as it gets. She was born into the famous Bolla family of Valpolicella at a time when her grandfather’s winery was one of just a handful of Italian estates that dominated wine production in Italy.
She was born in Friuli where her father worked at a distillery owned by the Bollas at the time. When she was ten years old, they moved to Valdobbiadene where she grew up in the heart of Prosecco country. At the time, no one could have imagined the Prosecco revolution that would later be sparked by her husband Primo. It was just a small town where sparkling wine was made, mostly for local consumption and for the restaurants and taverns of Venice.
When she left for college, she studied English and education. And it was during her year in London, where she had moved to perfect her language skills, that she met her soon-to-be husband Primo, also the heir to one of the Veneto’s leading families in wine.
After fifteen years of working as a middle school instructor, Primo’s success with the family’s wines was so great that he finally convinced her to abandon her job as a teacher and come work with him at the winery.
She attended sommelier school and immersed herself in the language and culture of wine until she felt she was ready to speak with authority on the wines of Nino Franco.
By that time, Nino Franco’s wines were known throughout the world, thanks in great part to Primo’s work as Valdobbiadene’s ambassador.
In 2004, the Franco family purchased the eighteenth-century Villa Barberina, just outside of their hometown, Valdobbiadene. And Annalisa was asked to oversee the restoration of the home — an officially recognized national landmark.
After four years of meticulous renovation — including the grounds, garden, and surrounding vineyards — the villa was finally reopened as a luxurious bed and breakfast.
Today, Annalisa devotes her time to managing the villa and its collection of works of art and period furniture and furnishings.