SA Wine Legends: Giorgio and George Dalla Cia

This month we would like to shine some light on two absolute legends of the South African wine industry – the father and son duo of Giorgio and George Dalla Cia of the aptly named Dalla Cia.  While they don’t bask in the limelight like some other producers, there is no doubting that there are few in the industry with equal pedigree.

 

Giorgio and George Dalla Cia

The Dalla Cia wine making story begins in Friuli, Northern Italy, in the early 1900’s.  Giorgio’s father, Vittorio, after many years as a wine merchant, purchased an old still from his cousin in the early 1920’s and rapidly became one of the largest producers of Grappa in Italy.  Thus, from a very young age, Giorgio was brought into the world of wine, Grappa and Brandy – luckily he took a shine to it because, as Vittorio’s eldest son he was expected to take over the family business.

 

 

Giorgio studied Viticulture and Oenology in Italy at the Scuola Enologica di Conegliano before joining his father behind the stills.  However, after a few years, Giorgio wanted to spread his wings a little wider – a few flaps of said wings saw him land in South Africa.  After a couple of short term jobs, he ended up in Stellenbosch in the mid-1970’s, where he remains 50 odd years later.

 

A couple of years later, in 1978, Giorgio went to Meerlust to assist with pressing grapes for a harvest.  While working the harvest he met Nico Myburgh, Meerlust’s owner, and to say that the two of them saw eye-to-eye would be an understatement.  They both dreamed of moving away from making low quality bulk wine and focus on making something truly great – emulating the great Bordeaux blends. Giorgio was immediately appointed head winemaker, a position in which he remained for 25 years.  After a couple of years of experimentation, Giorgio pioneered the iconic Meerlust Rubicon – releasing its maiden vintage in 1980 – and scooping himself the accolade of South Africa’s Champion Winemaker of 1980.

Meerlust, Rubicon 2018

 

During his time at Meerlust he scooped up an astounding amount of recognition, including being knighted by the president of Italy in 1986 for his achievements in the South African wine industry, the IWSC Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Trophy for the 2001 Meerlust Rubicon, and the 2005 Winemaker of the Year.

 

Going back a few years, shortly after Giorgio arrived in Stellenbosch, he had his third child – George.  It would be fair to say that George grew up at the knee of a master, which kindled the same passion in him as it had his father.  After distillation was legalised in South Africa, in 1994, Giorgio and George imported a state of the art alembic still from Italy and started producing locally made ‘Grappa’. After a few years of persuasion, George managed to convince Giorgio to retire from Meerlust and the two of them founded the Dalla Cia brand in 2004 – producing a range of still wines, ‘Grappa’ and even a Brandy. Today the Dalla Cia business is run by George, but Giorgio is never far away – the two of them can often be found having lunch together at their family run restaurant Pane e Vino.

Dalla Cia, Moscato ‘Grappa’ 2013

Dalla Cia, Pinot Noir / Chardonnay ‘Grappa’ NV

Raise a glass (ideally of Dalla Cia) to these two Greats! Salute.

 

 

This blog was edited and posted by Digital Squeak.