The headquarters: Borgo Antico San Vitale
The San Vitale architectural complex is located in Borgonato di Corte Franca, a typical country village in the heart of Franciacorta. The origins of the “borgo” date back to the early middle ages, when it was first mentioned in an imperial diploma dated 879 whereby Charlemagne donated the court of Borgonato to the monastery of San Salvatore – Santa Giulia of Brescia.
In the centre of the village, to the north of the Castle hill, stands the San Vitale complex, whose main characteristic is that it consists of buildings of different types dating back to different periods which, over time, have blended into a complex of outstanding historical-architectural importance.
The southern perspective shows the elegant priest’s house (16th century), alongside which is a rural building with portico and loggia, typical features of the Lombardy farmhouse. The northern part is occupied by the former church of San Vitale (15th century) the ruins of which have been integrated into a large room, now a display area, which enhances the old presbytery and the two side chapels.
Before the renovation work was begun, archaeological digs had brought to light the foundations of a small church dating back to the Longobard period and a large medieval cemetery. The entire complex has undergone careful restoration using traditional methods and materials (stone, brick, wood), which has once again given the “borgo” a suggestive 17th/18th-century appearance.
This restoration work took five years and was entirely funded by the Gozio family under the control of the Brescia Architectural Heritage and Landscape Authority. Borgo Antico San Vitale has been listed among the most important cultural assets of the Franciacorta district.
The Forum Aquavitae headquarters at Borgo San Vitale feature an operating distillery with alembics of various types, able to distil raw materials of grape and non-grape origin. This allows conducting research and development activities in these fields:
- marc preservation and fermentation;
- fermentation of other alcoholic substances;
- technologies for transferring the terroir in spirits;
- technologies for the recovery and re-use of varietal and fermentation aromas;
- technologies for the enrichment of spirits containing compounds which are very good for the health;
- distillation monitoring methods.
The distillery is completed by a barrel cellar containing 240 oak barriques (225 litres each) for ageing grappa.
The sensory analysis room was developed and equipped with the aim of providing an adequate location in which to analyse the products at all levels.
It is used to stage sensory analysis courses able to cater for the training needs of both trade professionals, more interested in specific training on a single spirit, and the aficionado, on the contrary driven by the desire to extend his/her basic knowledge of spirits.
An experiential route
Within Borgo Antico San Vitale runs an experiential route dedicated to spirits which enables visitors to appreciate their history to the full.
To date, the following sections are operative:
- the historical picture of the old “borgo”;
- the evolution of the alembic in 3500 years of history, with a real-size reconstruction of the first alembic found in Mesopotamia and with subsequent ones represented on large copper bas-reliefs;
- the evolution of the alembic for the different spirits made in the world from 1800 to the present day, by means of large tablets.
Olfactory theme routes are also being organised which will enable visitors to discover the aromas of the spirits, the types of wood in which they are stored and the medicinal herbs used in their production.