Francesca Castaldi grew up in winemaking; both sides of her family had vineyards, and her father began bottling his own wines in the 1950s. Pierino, as he was known, bottled until the 1980s when he decided to let the local cooperative take over his production. But Francesca had Fara in her veins, so in 1997 she decided to purchase her own vineyards and connect with her family history by producing wines under her own label. She completely replanted four hectares of prime Fara using clones from her father’s vineyard, and in the 2005 harvest produced just a few hundred bottles of her first Fara. In 2011, she renovated her father’s cantina to make room for her new production, but it’s still relatively small. The estate has grown to 6.5 hectares, but the cases produced are extremely limited.
The appellation of Fara is named for an ancient village settled by Lombard invaders in circa AD 600. Since Roman times, however, vines were planted in this area and it was known for exceptional quality wine throughout the empire. Today the appellation consists of about 20 hectares of vineyards with only 10 bottler/producers in the communes of Briona or Fara Novarese. To give you an idea of the scale of this appellation – DOC since 1969 – compare it to its neighbor Gattinara, with 100+ hectares, or further south, to Barolo’s 1750 hectares. This is great news for us: at this scale, Francesca Castaldi is making stunning wines with incredible attention to detail and adherence to a winemaking tradition that her family traces back into the 1700s! Her cultivation is not certified organic, but she uses integrated pest management and tries to maintain the lowest level of environmental impact possible.