The gnome’s vineyard

Any time I visit cellars in the Langhe area I always come back home full of positive energy and lots of inspiring stories and ideas. It couldn’t be different after my meeting with Sara Vezza Saffirio, a young and entrepreneurial winemaker at Josetta Saffirio in Casteletto (Monforte d’Alba). As 23-year-old girl she already decided to stay in the area and to continue a family tradition of making wines.

Josetta Saffirio, Monforte d'alba, Piedmont, Italy
Sara Vezza Saffirio

It was my second visit in Josetta Saffirio vineyard. During the course for wine lovers I had two classes with Roberto Vezza, Sara’s father, enologist who was telling us (in a very funny and interesting way) about red and white wine production process. One lesson took part in Josetta Saffirio vineyard. It is characteristic by facility rooms arrangement showing natural winemaking process – the maceration of submerged cap, then malolactic fermentation takes place in a separate room with controlled temperature, then underground cellar with barrique and botti, another one with inox and cement tanks to end up in the spacious room dedicated to bottling and labeling procedure.

Josetta Saffirio, Monforte d'Alba, Piedmont, Italy
malolactic fermentaion room
Josetta Saffirio, Monforte d'Alba, Piedmont, Italy
barriques where part of Barolo wine matures
Josetta Saffirio, Monforte d'Alba, Piedmont, Italy
and botti used also for wine maturing
Josetta Saffirio, Monforte d'Alba, Piedmont, Italy
less popular cement tanks

But this time I meet with Sara who greets me in front of the winery and she starts a fascinating story about women’s business. Since two generations are ladies to struggle with everyday difficulties in grapevine cultivation and with challenges in wine production. Josetta Saffirio, Sara’s mother, as a young girl decided to continue the family tradition originated by her father who inherited at the beginning of 20th century a piece of land in Casteletto. In 1985 she launched her first Barolo, produced from the oldest grapevine planted just after the war. In her everyday work she was supported by her husband Roberto Vezza working as an enologist in Marchesi di Barolo vineyard. In the second half of 90-s, 23-year-old Sara joined the family business and now she manages the vineyard taking care for her family, in the same time.

Josetta Saffirio, Monforte d'Alba, Piedmont, Italy
new (on left) designed by Sara and the old vetion of labels prepared by Josetta

While she was showing me the cellar, I was listening about modernizations she introduced – solar panels that cover 200% of their needs, bottles obtained in 90% from recycling and many others such as reducing chemicals used in the vineyard. Sara and her family believes that as farmers they take full responsibility of the land that will be inherited by the next generation. They respect the soil that feeds them and gives fruits of their hard work.

Josetta Saffirio, Monforte d'Alba, Piedmont, Italy
example of wines produced in Josetta Saffirio winery

I have already mentioned about all the family members but not one … a nice gnome. Its presence in the family is covered by a magic legend. Ernesto, Sara’s grandfather, used to see him in the cellar, then a young granddaughter exchanged letter with her imaginary friend. The gnome became not only a family tradition, but also an important symbol of the vineyard decorating a beautiful and original labels designed by Josetta.

Josetta Saffirio, Monforte d'Alba, Piedmont, Italy
a nice gnome taking care of wine making process

My visit in the cellar finished with tasting. In a spacious, elegant room decorated with family paintings I was indulging with an old and well structured Langhe Bianco DOC 2008, then Langhe Nebbiolo DOC 2013 and spectacular, perfectly balanced Barolo DOCG 2011 (by the way, you need to know it is a fabulous vintage for Piedmontese wines because of very hot and sunny summer and autumn. I remember in October day temperature used to reach 30° C…). Sara showed me also a lovely collection of glasses made of cut bottles, a large line of Barolo based cosmetics, plus elegant and scented candles.

Josetta Saffirio, Monforte d'Alba, Piedmont, Italy
lovely collection of glasses

More information about the Vineyard you can find on:

If you happen to visit the Langhe area you should step in the gnome’s cellar as guests are always welcomed. And who knows maybe you were lucky to meet mysterious friend of the family…

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