Girl is born in one of the most important white DOCG’s in Italy; Gavi. Girl has one brother and one sister. Dad is a farmer, however, instead of grapes he grows every other crop that has historically grown in this fertile red soiled territory, where generations of his family have worked the same land before him.
A few years before retiring, dad has a dream to plant some vineyards… leaving something a little more valuable to his children, as the value of the land was steadily rising together with the international call for GAVI. Then maybe, just maybe, he and his children will try to some micro-vinifications, making some wine for the family… and then… who knows!?
Sadly and suddenly dad passes away in 2008. None of the siblings work in agriculture. Brother is an engineer, younger sister Milena is a doctor and eldest sister Stefania is a psychologist.... However, they decide together, they want to make dads dream come to fruition.
Younger sister and the brother start together with a project they call Molinetto Carea. After 2- 3 vintages, younger sister, Stefania, and her brother Diego, realize they want different things out of the vineyard, and in the bottle. Diego is an engineer… and was looking for a wine, let’s say, more mainstream. Stefania, more on the free thinking side, wanted to experiment in the cellar, to not use any SO2… she wanted indigenous yeast, and was curious about what the wine would do, left alone.
They divided the vineyards, and went their separate ways. Stefania maintained vineyards in the regions of Belvedere di Tessarolo (where there is the famous red soil, ‘Terra Forte’), and created her own label called Terra di Matè. Matè was her dads name in dialect.
Stefania had to suddenly buy a tractor, find cellar to rent space in, not to mention then selling her wine (in the ‘separation,’ her brother kept the sales network except Indie as we chose to follow Stefania).
Stefania would have to do all the work in the vineyards and cellar herself, previously her brother took care of the vineyards, and she took care of the cellar. All this, while maintaining her ‘day job’ in her private studio, as well as a community center for predominately Alzheimer patients and their families.
Enough to intimidate even the most ambitious of characters. Stefania didn’t think twice. She had been bitten by the wine bug, and felt as passionate towards this path of making a Gavi her way, the natural way, as she did her day job and giving realization to her dads dream.
Stefania's first step was to get a tractor. She went to recommended tractor store, and had to ask for help when no one would pay attention to her. The nice tractor salesman said he would be happy to help when she came back with her husband. After explaining patiently that she was not married, and it was her that was going to be driving the tractor, the salesman looked at her and asked her what she was going to do when the tractor broke down. She responded she would do what the other tractor drivers do, and call local tractor repair man.
Said tractor took 6 months to arrive. She had to beg and borrow from neighbors while she awaited her tractor (that was paid for). She had to go back monthly to inquire, and she is pretty sure they didn’t order for her right away because they just couldn’t believe she was serious. *NOTE: My own husband recently bought his first new tractor, and it arrived the week later.
Stefania finally got her tractor. One spring day while she was spraying, her atomizzatore (sprayer attachment) broke. She knew which piece needed to be replaced so she went to the point of purchase, asking for said piece, and once again store man looked her up and down, and said, ‘I think it’s better if I take a look, to make sure it’s actually that which you say is broken.’
These are just two of the stories that Stefania has shared with us, always with a smile and a laugh, about being a young single woman making wine on her own.
I spoke with Stefania today while she was in the vineyard. She was telling me about a new pet nat she is making this year, as well as rolling off all the info and stats on her other wines, the 2016’s that are bubbling away in the cellar. After the call I reflected on the fact that Stefania is a true wine natural. She is the female version of Robert Redford of the wine world. Making the work in the vineyard, and the cellar, of 9,000 bottles a year, all on her own, seem effortless.
When Stefania started she had never been to a wine fair. She barely drank wine. She drank what was offered to her and drank locally, but never thought much more of it than that. She wasn’t a restauranteur turned wine maker. She wasn’t a sommelier turned wine maker, or even wealthy wine collector turned wine maker. She had absolutely no connection to the wine business or world of food and bev.
When she was thrust into this world, and role, she followed her pure instincts. She had no idea there was a ‘natural wine movement.’ She didn’t know what the Dive Bouteille was. She had little to no experience with French wines. You get the picture, she was a rookie in every way.
Stefania decided to not add SO2 to her wine, that first vintage when she was still working with her brother, because when she tasted it she thought it was so beautiful and alive, she couldn’t imagine changing it, and especially not ‘killing the dance’ she found in her glass. It was her natural instinct (no pun intended) to work this way. She has a thoughtfulness and insightfulness about her wines and her work that I’ve of course seen before, but only after years and years of vintages under the producers belt. She is her own worst critic, and asks for constructive feedback whenever she can.
We met Stefania when she and her brother had just bottled their first vintage, and I’ve had the incredible honor and pleasure of watching her become an expert in this field she just entered… and Indie has had the great pleasure and excitement of watching her wines change and evolve to a higher level with each vintage.
She is still the humble and shy woman I met in 2011. However, add a splash of confidence, 6 vintages of experience and experimentation, and I vote her the the ‘woman in wine to watch’. #womeninwine
(Here we are, in AZ two years ago. From left to right, Paolo Brunello, Francesco Mulinari, Natalino Crognaletti with the briefcase he brought out that night to go clubbing with (????), me, Anna Martens, and last but not least Stefania Carrea.)