Name: Silvia Altare
Currently: General Manager at Elio Altare Wines
Please, tell us about how you got into wine, the wine industry and how your career developed?
After having travelled the world and worked through several different wine regions, learned English working as an au-pair for the Krankl family at Sine Qua Non winery in California, I finally got an economic degree at University of Economia e Commercio of Torino. My father’s graduation present was a shock for me: he got me a very nicely decorated envelope, which I naively thought it would contain money, or a free flight to go on holiday somewhere, or a fancy dinner bonus, nope, none of that, he got me a subscription to the “farmers’ union” , with a card that said “your new life starts now”. So I officially started working at the winery in summer 2003 and I’m now fully involved in every aspect of the process at our 10-hectare Elio Altare estate – although growing up in a small family-run winery means being involved in every part of the process from the day you are born! Our winery is a family business, so we don’t have strict working positions, so everybody is in charge of a bit of everything, even if in the last few year, I started to be more and more involved with sales and promotion. Being the first woman entering the winery hasn’t been easy for me, and for sure the relationship father-daughter it’s impossible to explain in just a few lines. It’s obviously a positive relationship, not always easy, based on constant teachings, I use his 45 years’ experience just as much as he is using my “new generation” ideas.
What is your philosophy to making wine and viticulture?
Our wines are simple and natural, and we would like people to know that:
-Vineyards are cultivated without the use of any chemicals or pesticides (unless it’s strictly necessary) or any other substance that might interfere with the cycle of the vine or of the grapes growing.
-We only use copper and copper sulphate, and we fertilize with cow manure.
-During the alcoholic fermentation we don’t inoculate with yeast, we only use our indigenous yeasts, to this follows a natural malolactic fermentation
-We don’t filter or clarify the wine.
-We don’t use any substance that could modify the color or the structure of the wine.
-The sulphur level is way lower than what the Italian government would allow us to use.
-We don’t apply biodynamic or similar methods, we simply work the vineyards and the vines how they have been working them for hundreds of generations.
Our first goal is our health and the health of the people that work with us, respecting the land and environment, because it’s from the vineyards that we get our only profit. The landscape is the only patrimony that we get from our parents, and we have the duty and the moral commitment to preserve it as much as we can to be able to pass it to the next generations.
Which cultivar is your favourite to work with and why?
I honestly don’t have a favorite variety or vineyard, they all request the same energy, dedication and meticulous work. The trellising system is Guyot for all the varieties. Vineyard work is extremely seasonal and based on the weather, some season you end up running like crazy trying to catch up with the growing grass and the growing grapes, some other growing seasons are more relaxed.
How do you see the future of wine production and what are the challenges and the opportunities?
The wine world today is a bit of a jungle, customers are confused between organic, natural, biological or biodynamic wines. Barolo that cost 150€ and Barolo that cost 9€, big unknown wineries coming up every day on the market with powerful marketing strategies, new labels, lots of different appellations and designations etc etc…Our work is to be faithful to our roots and help people to understand the differences, promote our wines but the whole region at the same time.
Where do you see the global wine market in 2025?
I can’t really answer this question, I can’t picture the future that far. Hopefully I will still be here working with the same passion of today.
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – International Sommelier Positions – www.sommelier-jobs.com