Brothers Michael and Christian Dal Zotto have purchased the family’s Dal Zotto Wines from parents Otto and Elena, marking the first change of hands the winery has seen since the first vines were planted over 30 years ago.
Paying homage to their Italian roots, the Dal Zotto’s are the true pioneers of prosecco in Australia. They were the first to commercially plant prosecco varieties in the country, beginning with cuttings from Otto’s home town of Valdobbiadene – a cool climate, wine-producing village near the Veneto region and the home of prosecco.
Patriarch Otto Dal Zotto says the transition of the business to the second generation will ensure a smooth succession plan for the family-owned winery, as the two brothers focus on expanding the business’s prosecco offering.
“This changing of hands is a natural progression for our family business and the journey we have been on since we first released our wines in 1993 and planted prosecco in 1999, and it comes at a perfect time as we celebrate 24 years of the winery next year,” said Otto.
Otto and Elena will still play a role in the business but will now leave the major decision-making to sons Michael and Christian. Christian will continue to oversee the marketing and sales for Dal Zotto Wines, while Michael will continue in his role as chief winemaker and CEO.
“Prosecco is part of our family history – I learned the art of making prosecco from my father, and he learned it from his father, so we’re really proud of our heritage,” said Michael.
“The greatest lesson I have learnt about prosecco is focusing on simplicity and minimising the process. Over the next three years, we want to see the Dal Zotto name become synonymous with Prosecco and vice versa.”
In 2017, prosecco production accounted for 50 percent of the Dal Zotto business with 40,000 cases distributed across Australia. There are plans to increase production by 30 percent in 2018, and 15 percent each year after that. Dal Zotto also produces a variety of easy-drinking styles including barbera, sangiovese, pinot grigio and arneis, and they grow prosecco vines on seven separate sites across the King Valley.
Otto arrived in Australia in 1967 as an immigrant with the hope of utilising the winemaking skills he had learned from his father in his home town of Valdobbiadene. However, on arrival he first saw an opportunity for tobacco farming and planted tobacco in Cheshunt near the King Valley until the 1980s. But as the tobacco industry entered a sharp decline, he decided to invest in the grape industry purchasing 60 acres of land in the King Valley and planting barbera and nebbiolo.
On a visit back to Valdobbiadene to see family, Otto noticed consumption of prosecco in his home town was changing. It was no longer a bulk wine and was increasingly gaining popularity as a high end bottled wine. This sparked an idea to trial the variety in Australia, where prosecco wasn’t well known or a popular drink of choice. An Italian immigrant in Adelaide had brought prosecco cuttings legally through quarantine in 1990. In the mid 1990’s Otto sought to acquire some of the cuttings and in 1999 the first prosecco grape was planted at the Dal Zotto winery.
In 2004 the first Dal Zotto prosecco vintage was released, with limited quantities produced. The prosecco proved to be such a success that they had to restrict the sales to three bottles per person. Dal Zotto continues today to be a popular drink of choice for Australians as one of the country’s leading producers of prosecco – a visit to the cellar door any day of the year is testament to that.