The founder of the Cantele winery, Giovanni Battista Cantele — grandfather to the current generation — was born in 1907 in Pramaggiore (in the Province of Venice). During the Second World War, he moved to Imola (Province of Bologna) where he met and married the beautiful Teresa Manara. The couple had two sons, Augusto and Domenico.
After the war, Gianni — as he was known — made a career for himself in the wine trade. Like many in his generation, he found steady work as a broker of bulk wine that he would purchase in Puglia and then sell in Northern Italy. At the time, winemakers in northern Italy had difficulties in achieving the desired alcohol content and body in their wines — in part because of the climatic conditions and in part because of the available winemaking technology. It was not uncommon to ship wine from Puglia (where grape growers had no problems in obtaining fruit with sufficient sugar levels) to blend into the wines of the north. Expanding prosperity and a population explosion in the north had led to growing demand for quality wine.
On one of the many business trips that Gianni made from Imola to Lecce (Puglia’s baroque masterpiece and the hub of its viticulture), he took his wife Teresa with him. It was love at first sight: as soon as they arrived in Lecce, she made up her mind that she wanted to move the whole family there.
In the year’s leading up to Italy’s “economic miracle” and post-war recovery, it was unthinkable that a family with a thriving business would choose to abandon the prosperous north and relocate in the south, where agriculture was still the leading industry. But Gianni’s devotion to Teresa and their shared love of the pristine Salento peninsula inspired the couple to make a “reverse” migration. When most young married couples were moving to the north in search of factory jobs, the Cantele family backed the bags and headed in the opposite direction.
Teresa and Gianni’s son Augusto, 16 years old at the time, was reluctant to follow the family to the “deep south” — even though, in his later years, there was no one who loved Salento more. He remained in the north and went to school to study enology in Conegliano at the historic Institute for Viticultural Research and Experimentation.