A Toast to Success
Martini & Rossi
Martini and Rossi’s story begins in July 1847, when four Piedmont businessmen set up a distillery in Turin known as the Distilleria Nazionale di Spirito di Vino.
Three men who worked for the distillery would eventually come to dominate the business: businessman Luigi Rossi, accountant Teofilo Sola, and wine maker Alessandro Martini.
It was Martini’s astuteness that enabled him to acquire shares from the distillery’s original founders and in 1863 the company would restructure and become Martini, Sola and Cia. When, after Teofilo Sola’s death in 1879, the Sola family sold off their shares, the company would finally become Martini and Rossi.
It was in 1864 that the production site was moved from Turin to its now historic plant in Pessione, in the province of Chieri. Martini and Rossi had already received its first accolades at the 1865 International Exposition held in Dublin and this honour would be repeated at the 1879 International Exposition in Paris.
In 1892 control of the company would fall into the hands of Luigi Rossi’s four sons.
This new generation would allow Martini and Rossi to make great strides and leave many of their competitors in the dust. In 1901, a new steam distillery was constructed in Montechiaro d’Asti as well as plants in other parts of the world including Buenos Aires and Geneva.
In 1925, new Italian laws would cause the company to become Martini and Rossi Ltd. These were years of expansion and upgrading of the plant in Pessione, including the creation of many social works for the benefit of the employees.
Unfortunately, WWII created some difficulties for the business. The directors at the Turin headquarters would be forced to evacuate and move to Pessione and, also at this time, some international branches, such as the one in Germany, would suffer serious damage. Despite these problems, the company maintained full employment to protect its workers during the war.
Recovery from the war would begin in 1945. In December of that year, the famous Martini concerts would re-air on the radio – these concerts are said to have helped launch the career of Maria Callas.
It was the 1950s that would signal the re-launch of Martini and Rossi, which, meanwhile, had been transformed into a public stock corporation. In these years, print publicity and signage would bear the signatures of greats including Armando Testa and Andy Warhol.
Soon after this period, Martini and Rossi began experimenting with new methods of advertising and bolstering up the company’s world-famous image.
The famed Martini Terraces were an expression of the company’s keen interest in culture as well as testimony to the company’s ability to insert itself into the zeitgeist of the late 50s and early 60s. The idea for the terraces was conceived in 1948 when, at the Paris headquarters in 52 Champs Elysees, the directors decided to create a space on the top floor of the building. It was thought to be a perfect setting to welcome notable guests, particularly people from the world of fashion and film.
Not only dedicated to the active promotion of culture and sport, Martini and Rossi also place a great importance on the preservation and the education of oenological history. In 1961, Martini and Rossi inaugurated the Museo Enologico in the cellars of its historic Pessione plant. The museum features a collection of more than 600 pieces dating from the 7th century BC to the present day and was created with the private collection of Lando Rossi di Montelera, one of Luigi Rossi’s grandsons.
The exhibition features ten rooms including an archaeological area, as well as a section devoted to the modern era, and offers a fascinating journey through the history of spirit and winemaking.
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