Cantina Francone in Barbaresco: Tradition and Innovation

Francone Barbaresco in Neive

Cantina Francone in Barbaresco is a 5th generation winemaking family. The cantina remains deeply rooted in tradition with innovative technologies and practices powering them into the future.

In 2015 Francone became a popular stop on our Barbaresco and Barolo wine tours. So, I thought I’d do my first 2016 post introducing Cantina Francone in Barbaresco, then give you a sneak peek at the new label designs they are releasing this year.

Read on and give your opinion on the new designs! 

Get to know Cantina Francone in Barbaresco

Cantina Francone in Barbaresco is located in the winemaking area of Neive. Today brothers Fabrizio and Marco manage the production and operations.

They produce roughly 100,000 bottles annually with a portfolio that includes the traditional wines of the area: Roero Arneis, Dolcetto, Barbera, Langhe Nebbiolo, Moscato d’Asti, Barbaresco, Barbaresco Riserva, and even a Barolo. In addition, they also do a metodo classico sparkling Nebbiolo, Langhe Chardonnay, Langhe Rosso, and a few more.

Cantina Francone’s high quality wines and incredible cellar door prices are not the only reasons visitors love it.

The cantina showcases antique tools that were used for harvest, press, and general production work. During the visit guests hear about different winemaking techniques, including their sparkling method, tank procedures, aging in both barrique and large oak casks, and much more.

During the 2015 harvest we were lucky enough to taste the 2015 Arneis and Dolcetto directly from the tank, freshly pressed and still fermenting. We also hit the vineyards to check out some Nebbiolo for Barbaresco harvest.

A Virtual Tour: Cantina Francone in Barbaresco

Antique Winemaking Tools at Cantina Francone
A visit to Cantina Francone begins in the cellar. The hallway before the cellar is lined with 10+ antique winemaking tools used over the generations by the Francone Family for Barbaresco wine production.
Cantina Francone Barbaresco Wine Tour
Fabrizio talks visitors through all aspects of his winemaking methods. Here, he explains how second fermentation works in sparkling wine production.
Cantina Francone 2015 Dolcetto
Chris from California was with us just after Francone brought in their 2015 Dolcetto. We tasted both Dolcetto and Arneis, which were still fermenting in the tank.
Cantina Francone Tank Room
Fabrizio demonstrates his technology for temperature control in the tank. Cold water from the top glides over the tank, then collects at the bottom and re-circulates back up and over.

Francone Barbaresco Vineyards in Neive

During our harvest visit we had Penny from blog Adventures of a Carry-on with us. Be on the lookout at her blog for more on her time at Francone.

New Year, New Labels for Cantina Francone

As mentioned, Francone is currently working on a new label design for their Langhe Chardonnay and Dolcetto d’Alba. When I visited with Fabrizio last week he asked my opinion. The one I liked was different from the favorite of both Fabrizio and Il Marito. That got my marketing brain wondering which labels are more attractive to the larger public, and why.

Cantina Francone in Barbaresco New Wine Labels
Francone is evaluating the look of two different labels designs that will go on his Dolcetto d’Alba and Langhe Chardonnay. They can easily differentiated by the square and oval shapes.

A few words on wine labels.

In the past two months this is the second producer who has shown Il Marito and I new wine labels that are set to launch with their latest vintage. For the smaller, family owned wineries in our area it is a very personal thing. As a marketer I know that big budgets and research and development can play heavily into packaging decisions. It makes sense. Often, the label is the consumers’ first impression of the wine.

A lot of studies have been done on what design elements are most important to drive sales. A wine producer in Priorat once told us that wines with animals sell at much higher rate, so they factored that into their design. Others variables include font, color, bottle size, and even bottle weight. The rationale behind each can be fascinating.

All of these things are being considered in Piedmont, in as much as these small producers are able. Piedmont is home to the contadine, people who work the land. In many cases the family handles everything, from vineyard and cellar work to sales and marketing to tours and tastings. They don’t have marketing pros or budgets to invest in market research. Labels are an expression of their winery, the history, and culture. The hope is that it appeals to you and I as a wine drinking consumer.

What label do you prefer: Oval or Square? 

I won’t go into the fonts or design selected. Please, just look at the label, pick a preference, then leave a comment below AND / OR visit Francone on Facebook to tell him what you like. Extra credit: any reason why?

When the label is selected I’ll do a follow-up posting sharing the final product.

Francone Langhe Chardonnay

Cantina Francone Dolcetto

Visit Cantina Francone in Barbaresco:

  • Cantina Francone. Via Tanaro 45, 12052 Neive. tel. +39 0173 67068, Tastings are available by appointment only; fees vary by the number of wines (waived with minimum purchase; inquire for more details).
  • Custom Wine Tours. If you are planning a Barbaresco and Barolo wine tour, we can help. For more information and to book, click here.

Read More About Barbaresco and Barolo Wine Tours:

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12 replies on “Cantina Francone in Barbaresco: Tradition and Innovation”
  1. says: Penny Sadler

    Touring the winery with Fabrizio was definitely a highlight of my time in Piedmont. I agree with you, I think the winery is very artistic, hence, I like the oval labels. I know you didn’t go into fonts but being an artistic sort myself I did notice and like the more modern, less formal look of the oval label including the font. I also think it compliments well the wines which are easier drinking and don’t require the aging Barbaresco requires. I can’t wait to see which he chooses.

    1. Grazie Mille, Penny! I didn’t want to go into detail on the fonts and such because I didn’t want to taint opinions.

      They are such great wines! We’ll drink some next time you are in town. Ciao ciao! Val

  2. says: Jeff Holder

    Love Fabrizio and his family. The wines just make it all the better. My wife and I, she is from Genova, we live in Philadelphia, Pa. USA. First visited in 2011 where I proposed. So their winery and friendship will forever hold a special place in our life. As for the new labels. I had mentioned to Fabrizio that maybe to look at using the traditional square but updating the fonts,etc along the vein of the the new oval label shapes. For me being a bit more of a traditionalist I prefer square labels. Plus when making a move to an exisiting brand I think that it is important not to make too many changes to the aesthetic. People tend to fear the large moves to a product they are familiar with. My 2 cents. Love the article, and jealous that you are living there, it remains a pleasant dream for me. Ciao.

    1. Thanks for reading, Jeff! What a lovely story! I agree on big branding changes. It’s definitely a slippery slope. And, it’s rarely something well received by brand loyalists.

      So much to consider! I hope we can meet the next time you are here! A presto, Val

  3. says: Jeff

    First of all, congratulations to Cantina Francone for seeking input, bravo! All my opinions are based on the US, so take them appropriately. I have a slight preference for the square label being a bit better, there is more contrast and the type stands out. However, not a big difference. I just went down into my cellar and looked at the labels for the Piemontese wines I found there. If you’re trying to make a difference on your label, have you considered those found on Matteo Corregia, Vietti, or Trediberri? Incorporating some artwork can be an attraction. I don’t generally care for Vietti wines, but their labels stand out on a shelf in a shop. Matteo Corregia wines also have a nice, bright, artistic modern label. If your winery doesn’t have solid name recognition (say, Conterno), then you might consider a bigger change to incorporate some artwork.
    I think Jeff Holder’s comments above should be considered, too. Loyal fans are attached to the current labels and may be suspicious of big changes. Not an easy choice! I guess that’s why I chose engineering for my career!

  4. says: Trisha

    Both labels look very nice, but I’d vote for the rectangle because the text is shiny! I think that catches the light and brings your attention to it.

    Also, great blog post with pictures from a great time at Francone. I love the Valsellera so much!

    1. Ciao, Trisha!

      I like the rectangle, too! I hadn’t considered the shiny factor. Totally makes sense!

      I was going to message you that I used that picture. So glad you enjoyed your visit there! When are you guys coming back?

      A presto! Val

  5. Hi Valeria,

    I love it when the wine makers take their time to speak to visitors at the winery and explain to them some of the process and what goes on. As an amateur wine maker I always love to pick their brains but unfortunately some of the big wineries out there just don’t have/take the time. Which brings me to the label selection, I personally prefer the round label as it seems more casual and more suited for a small, family owned winery. The square one which frames the name, and the shiny fonts look more formal to me. I suppose it depends on how they want to portray themselves to the public too. Anyway I will go and let them know 🙂 thank you for adding another go to winery to my list. Regards, Graziella.

  6. says: John O

    My buddy in California has the same surname and his grandfather is from the region. Perhaps there is a family connection. Do you know if the wines are exported? They sound fantastic.

    Great blog!

    1. Ciao! Grazie for reading the blog! There certainly could be a family connection – one never knows! If you want to drop me an email (girlsgottadrink at I can check with Fabrizio on a shipping order. The export is to the States is currently limited, but they are working on it!

      A presto!

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