What better way to relax after a weekend spent racing a Formula 1 car at speeds of over 200mph than to sit back with a glass of wine? F1 superstar Jarno Trulli went one better: he brought his own vineyard.
Jarno Trulli, who retired following the 2011 F1 season after a highly successful racing career that spanned almost 15 years and more than 250 races, acquired the Podere Castorani in 1999 as a welcome break from the pressures of F1: “I became interested in wine because traveling the world for Karting, F3 and F1, I realised that wine is a noble sign of every terroir. I [wanted] a project linked to my roots and origin", Jarno explained.
The Podere Castorani was just what he was looking for, the vineyard is located a mere 18 miles from his birthplace of Pescara, close to Italy's Adriatic coast, and covers more than 75 acres of luxuriant and uncontaminated countryside; Its position at 350 metres above sea level allows for the ideal combination of sun exposure and cool night winds which help to give the wine its distinct character.
Jarno’s manager, Lucio Cavuto, is the second of four partners and mostly takes care of the foreign market: which at present represents 85% of business. Like Jarno, Lucio was also brought up in the Abruzzo region, where his family’s farm just so happened to specialise in growing grapes: “especially Montepulciano and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo”, he proudly informed me.
While Lucio, along with Jarno’s father Enzo, takes care of the business side of things it is Angelo Cavuto who is in charge of cultivating the vineyard along with a team of up to 50 employees during the all-important picking season. Angelo, who graduated from Bologna University where he studied Agricultural Science before supervising vineyards in Imola and Portugal, has been involved with the business for over 10 years and brings his great experience. “My first experience in the field was in 2003…and since then becoming a winemaker was inescapable”, he says.
The Podere Castorani has 3,000 square metres of brand new underground cellars, and can now produce over 1 million bottles per year, which are exported all over the world: especially to their biggest markets of the US and Canada. But despite their rapid growth, it is still age old winemaking traditions that are the order of the day at the Podere Castorani. "In wine making so many things changed following the development of the food industry, but wine is something so different from food, with its soul changing day by day…”, says Angelo.
In keeping with regional tradition, Angelo still uses the old fashioned vertical press that was first introduced during roman times: “It makes a huge difference because the pressure action is milder, and so both white fresh crushed grapes and red pomaces are treated more kindly”, he explains. The wine is then aged slowly in small oak barrels without the use of stabilizers or filtration in order to preserve the natural flavour. The use of natural cork also help to maintain the all-important character.
The wine production is largely under the control of Angelo, but it is certainly Jarno who is the face of the Podere Castorani. Jarno lends his name to a variety of premium red and white wines, including the full bodied Jarno Rosso, and spends much of his time traveling between Europe and the US to promote them. "The team at the winery are making great improvements day by day, but I’m happy when I'm at the winery and they're preparing a new blend and they share with me tastings and impressions", he says.
Jarno's grandfather was also a winemaker on a local scale "supplying wine to the neighbourhood through the local markets", and his passion has clearly rubbed off on Jarno who has also become a passionate and knowledgeable winemaker.
The Podere Castorani is going from strength to strength, and in a world that wants everything yesterday it’s wonderful to see the age old winemaking traditions are very much alive and well. The old villa that has stood on the estate since 1793 is currently being refurbished, and once complete the Podere Castorani hopes to accommodate up to 30 guests at a time. Perfect for those who want to experience authentic wine production from the grape to the bottle. They are currently working on 30 new labels and as Angelo rightly says: “there can never be too many!".