20 Jul Five Lessons Learned: Italo Stupino, Castello Di Neive
I woke up early at sunrise on the day of my visit to Castello Di Neive which was scheduled for 10:30 AM.
I went for my morning stroll thru the hills of the Langa. Every 50 meters it appears that the amount of views is infinite amongst these beautiful bricco which is Piemontese for the top of the hill.
I drove the approximate 30 minutes from Serralunga D’Alba (Barolo Commune) to Neive (one of the four Barbaresco Communes). Upon my arrival, I was cordially greeted by the two ladies who work in hospitality there. They were polite, cheerful and inviting informing me that Mr. Stupino would be there shortly. They offered me a Spumante during my wait which I politely declined and asked for water. I strolled out of the tasting room and admired the views from the back courtyard of the vineyards and the nearby villages.
It was at this point that the affable, kind man known as Italo Stupino walked out towards us and introduced himself to me with the warmth like a member of the family. I immediately was drawn to his energy and kind spirit which was on full display. Even at 84 years old, he still looked sharp in neatly pressed, medium blue slacks, a light blue golf shirt tucked in that reminded me of Florida and sharp blue, leather stylish yet comfortable shoes. His belly jutted out over his belt line like a jovial blue Santa Claus. He reminded me of a nonno or grandpa.
We spent the next 15 minutes talking about life and reminiscing on a few different topics as older generations tend to do with a nostalgic air. We discussed the history of his vineyard as he walked me through the history of his first vintage all the way up to the present. His eyes lit up like a kid in a candy store when talking about some of his new experiments in the vineyards with different bottlings or varieties.
He referenced “The Professors” in Turin many times during our conversation and his winemaker as well. It was obvious he trusted the people that worked for him to do an amazing job, but he still was very much involved in the business. I could see the scientific approach he took in his vineyard on full display perhaps as a result of his first career in engineering.
We progressed on our tour throughout the magnificent property which culminated with a delicious four-course lunch paired with 13 of their wines. During my time on the property, five principals to live by were revealed to me by this wise sage which I shall strive to live by in my life as well.
1. Appreciate History and Where You Come From
History plays a very important role in Italo’s life and that is evident with his property. You can see it in the two magnificent horse drawn carriages he had restored with painstaking detail. You can also see it with the older vintages he has kept and stored in the cellar and the current ones he’s kept for the future for them to appreciate the past as well. He gave the history behind every architectural item on the property with a genuine sense of appreciation. The old hand press in the cantina had the first base funnel hand-carved out of stone in Piemonte as they were all made of wood prior.
2. Live For Passion
Many times throughout our day together he referenced the Turin Olympics and how their slogan was “ Passion Lives Here”. On many occasions he would share with others from other countries about the passion that lives at Castello Di Neive; passion for the historical antiquity, passion for excellence and passion for the truth.
3. Don’t Accept The Status Quo!
Given the struggles Italo has experienced to gain control of his winery (he now owns 25% of the company along with his siblings) he constantly is being challenged to protect his legacy. He doesn’t accept anything as fact until he has verified everything in a very logical manner. Challenge yourself!
4. When You Find Something You Love Nourish It
Italo found his passion within the winery and his amazing ability to connect with people. In his later years he could very easily have someone else work for him and travel around the world to promote his brand, but he still does it himself. He takes countless flights, he stands behind tables at wine conventions and tastings still to this day in order to have the intimate connection with the people that love his wines. He is very dedicated and brings 200% to his work every day.
5. Pay Attention To The Details
Castello Di Neive’s commitment to grape varietal research and clonal variety selection resulted in them producing the best Arneis clone. This is a firm reason why I believe their Arneis to be one of the best! In regards to the Albarossa red variety they perfected the vinification technique as well as a result of Italo’s collaboration with the University of Turin, trusting their research and field studies to constantly improve little by little.
Special thank you to Italo Stupino of Castello Dr Neive and your wonderful team across the world! And a special thanks to Marcello Palazzi and Andrea Pace for arranging this wonderful lunch and interview for me.