Originally from France, the Charrère family moved in the mid 1700s to what is now the Aosta Valley of Italy. They started out as farmers and millers, establishing a home site and building a water powered mill on their property in Aymaville.
In 1955 the Charrères planted their first two hectares of grapes, focusing on making quality wines out of the indigenous vinifera varieties grown in the Aosta Valley.
In 1989 the Charrères enlarged the original estate and built the Les Crêtes winery. The old mill and home site will soon be restored for use as an agritourism destination.
With 25 hectares (62 acres) of grapes dedicated to wine production, Les Crêtes is the largest privately held vineyard and winery operation in the Aosta Valley. The Aosta Valley, located in northwest Italy, is Italy’s smallest and least populated region. It is an alpine valley with grape growing conditions typically associated with mountain elevations.
Close to Mont Blanc and surrounded on three sides by the Italian, French and Swiss Alps, it is a beautiful and unique part of Italy.
Les Crêtes vineyards are planted in both indigenous vinifera varieties (Petite Arvine, Petit Rouge, Fumin, Mayolet, Cornalin), as well as the more traditional vinifera varieties (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Muscat) which are also well adapted to the region’s climate and soil conditions.
Les Crêtes vineyards are located along the Aosta Valley’s Dora Baltea river and are distributed among vineyard blocks in six different villages; Saint Pierre, Aymavilles, Gressan, Sarre, Aosta and Saint Christophe. Plant densities in the vineyards range from 7,000 to 8,000 vines per hectare.
Because the Charrères believe great wines always start with quality grapes, vineyard management at Les Crêtes is firmly based on a meticulous agronomic management system. Spraying to control diseases is kept to a minimum to protect the regions delicate terroir and to follow the new E.U. rural policies for preserving mountainous areas.
The soils that have developed over the centuries on the glacial morain hillsides around Aymaville are composed of a mixture of sand and calcareous rocks. Les Crêtes vineyards are located at relatively high mountain elevations (600 to 1,000 m. /1,970 to 3,280 ft.), and due to the high elevation climatic conditions, the harvests at Les Crêtes often begin in late autumn. This gives the grapes time to ripen while exposed to a wide variation in day and night temperatures, a natural process which adds to the unique aromatic character and flavour profile of the resulting wines.
Les Crête’s Winemaking: Les Crêtes produces about 170,000 bottles annually (19,200 cases). The winery, the heart of the estate, is located in the scenic Aymavilles area of the Aosta Valley. Visitors to the winery can view the 16th Century Côteau la Tour tower which stands high above the surrounding vineyards and is the symbol of Les Crêtes and its line of quality crafted wines.