Castello di Stefanago

Location: Oltrepò Pavese, Lombardia
Size: 18 hectares
Varieties: Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Croatina (Bonarda), Merlot, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Nero, Uva Rara, Riesling Renano
Viticulture: Organic (certified in early 2000s). Biodynamic methods

Castello di Stefanago is only 90 minutes south of Milan, tucked up in the hills of the Oltrepò Pavese which are named for their location on the other (oltre) side of the Po river from the town of Pavia. The castello itself (which has been lived in continuously since it was built in the 11th century) sits about 500 meters above sea level, and if you climb to the top of the tower you can see the estate’s 135 hectares spread out over the rolling hills in every direction: woods, orchards, meadows, arable land, and yes, vineyards, of which there are 20 hectares planted on the plots most suitable in terms of sun exposure and soil composition.
When brothers Antonio and Giacomo Baruffaldi took the family helm they moved everything to organic farming; they have been certified organic since the early 2000s. They are truly committed to biodiversity here. We were shocked when Giacomo told us how much of the harvest is sacrificed each year to the local wild animals – upwards of 10% goes into the bellies of  cinghiale (wild boar), deer, rabbits, birds, etc.  “Eh,” says Giacomo with a shrug. “They live here too.”
At Stefanago they have always practiced minimal intervention in the cellar, using many of the ancient methods of winemaking that were practiced here for multiple generations before them. The younger generation is deeply involved in the farming as well as winemaking, and they’ve launched a new venture in craft beer, which is made and served in the brewpub they opened just across the street from the castello. (Apparently there are some fantastic dance parties at the pub during the summer!) Giacomo’s son Jacopo and his wife Silvia (of Emilia Pennac wines) periodically step away from their vineyard and winemaking duties to represent the Stefanago, Pennac, and Stuvenagh (another Stefanago brand using the Lombardian version of the name) wines, in places as far flung as South Korea.