Reinventing the preferred Wine for Italian Royalty
By Christine Stoddard
Once upon a time, David Noto dreamt of following in his father’s footsteps and becoming an engineer. Though his father has earned notoriety building skyscrapers, he deviated from the family trade: wine. For 10 generations, Noto’s ancestors led a noble, rustic life, but his grandparents wanted their son to be a professional, so they moved to Genoa to give him an urban lifestyle and improved education. It was that shift that set Noto’s father on a different path. It set Noto on a different path, as well, but only temporarily. Soon he, too, would be called to the family trade.
“Since childhood, I wanted to be an automotive engineer,” he says. “I always loved automobiles and cars. I’ve been collecting Matchbook cars, straight through today.” But when he learned that the automotive engineering field was very competitive and very specialized, Noto decided against it.
“I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life designing taillights,” he says. Thus he studied mechanical engineering and pursued the field for a few years before going into international consulting. He bounced from lucrative profession to lucrative profession until he had to pick up where his grandfather left off. Noto’s goal was two-pronged: He aspired to make the best prosecco possible and to persuade Americans to abandon the notion that prosecco’s only merit is being a cheaper alternative to champagne. Noto could not believe a wine that once was the preferred choice of Italian royalty had a less than sparkling reputation among Americans. With these two goals in mind, he started Altaneve.
Well, not just like that. Noto started his wine line with a plan. First, he attended Columbia Business School. “I told myself, I’m going to the best darn M.B.A. business school in the world or I’m not doing it,” he says. He studied in the executive program while continuing to work 60 hours to 80 hours a week as a finance manager.
“Initially, I thought I was going to move to the business side and add a zero to my paycheck,” he says. Instead, he realized that he valued a life of living, not necessarily a life of passionless work. He studied other successful entrepreneurs and businesses to take his prosecco idea to the marketplace.
“I had an empirical point of view,” says Noto. “I wasn’t just going to buy a vineyard and think, ‘Oh, I’ll try this and plant the roots and hope to make the wine.’ I told myself, ‘I will buy the best vineyard in the best and get the best agronomist in the world and make the best prosecco in the world.” To do that, he had to do a lot of research through reading and meeting with people who already worked in or around the wine industry. After a year and a half of market testing, Noto felt ready. “I told myself, I can do this. It’s a realistic possibility,” he says.
Through trial and error, Noto, who lives in New York and visits his land in Valdobbiadene, Italy, several times a year, has raised Altaneve’s profile in the wine world and the mainstream press. His self-described “ultra-premium Italian sparkling wine” has been featured in Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Food & Wine, Wine Spectator and more—all within the span of five years.
“I’m not going to lie: I’m not the smartest person in the world,” says Noto. “If I can do this, so many other people can. You have to approach the [idea] as intelligently as you can for success.” He adds, “But you have to be committed. If you are totally committed, you can probably make it happen.”
Following his families legacy, Noto produced the best prosecco in the world.
Order Altaneve at Altaneve.com and share your experience on social media with #BestProsecco.