Oftentimes discovering one’s true calling requires a leap of faith. Stella di Campalto found hers in an abandoned farm and winery in Montalcino, land that she restored to vibrant life with her own hands.
The San Giuseppe winery, not far from the ninth-century abbey of Sant’Antimo, was established in 1910 yet abandoned in the 1940s. Her family purchased the property in the early 1990s. Yet it wasn’t until her aunt encouraged her to explore this bucolic southeastern corner of Montalcino, with its forests and ancient olive groves, that Stella realized how much her staid life in Milan was taking away from her and her children.
Once at San Giuseppe, she was more than captivated—she realized she had come home.
Seeking the help of local winemakers and friends, she planted the estate to only Sangiovese vines and from the start, insisted on organic/biodynamic agriculture. Her convictions and her practice are all born from diligent observation and a guiding respect for the land and vine.
Today Stella di Campalto is one of Brunello di Montalcino’s most sought-after producers, and certainly one of its most respected artisans. She has achieved this through her natural, non-interventionist approach and almost magic ability to guide the soul of her vines into each bottle.
FARMING & WINEMAKING
The San Giuseppe farm is a 33-acre property, 13 acres of which is planted to Sangiovese vines; the rest is natural forest and a 100-year-old grove of olive trees. Stella prefers to keep her holdings small, to both maintain a close relationship with each vine and be able to walk easily from cellar to vineyard.
Stella maintains one contiguous vineyard, running from 1,100 feet to 780 feet in altitude. The slope is divided into six unique sections, each with its own character. Stella was certified for organic farming in 1996; and then certified for biodynamic farming in 2005. Interestingly, as the land was abandoned for decades starting in the early 1940s, historically no chemical treatments have ever been used here.
Her cellar complex is on three levels, and uses a gravity system. Grapes are harvested by hand and destemmed, and led by gravity into small wooden vats. Each of Stella’s vineyard plots is vinified separately on indigenous yeasts. Wine is aged in 225L casks and 900L tonneaux in the cellar’s basement, some 50 feet underground, so temperatures remain cool and constant. Wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.
As of the 2008 vintage, Stella will only be producing a Brunello di Montalcino Riserva (in addition to her Rosso) as she feels the extra aging time is required for her wines to truly begin to express themselves.