In this feature dedicated to Primo Franco and his role in Italy’s wine quality revolution back in the 1980s, Robert Camuto, contributing editor to Wine Spectator, walks us through Primo’s inspiration for transforming the Nino Franco Winery into what it is today:
Franco’s grandfather founded the winery as a négociant house, bottling red and white wines after the close of World War I. His father, Nino, expanded that business within Italy.
“We were selling calories,” recalls Franco. “Wine was something that was drunk every day and every night.”
Franco expanded the business with its first exports to other European countries and the United States. Then in 1982, his father died and took over. He immediately modernized the family winery, replacing old fermentation barrels with temperature-controlled steel tanks and eliminating red and white still wines from the family portfolio.
“I decided to do one thing—Prosecco,” he says, “to put all the gas inside one car in order to go faster and further.”
It was the time of Italian wine’s quality revolution, which Franco fondly recalls. “We were a bunch of producers of the same age,” he says. “We were coming from the business of calories and into the business of pleasure, hedonism, emotion.”