Winemaker Interview: Armando Castagnedi

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 07-27-2018

Armando Castagnedi

Armando Castagnedi

As our regular readers know, we frequently pose a series of questions to a winemaker to probe their winemaking philosophy and to gain insight into how they became who they are. This week, we are featuring Armando Castagnedi, the owner and winemaker of Tenuta Sant’Antonio in the Veneto region.

Armando was born into the wine industry: his father produced grapes for a wine cooperative. So the industry was natural to him. But it took an affirmative decision by him and his brothers to move from growing and selling grapes to winemaking. They did this over the past three decades by purchasing additional land and initially hiring winemaking consultants.

Today, Armando oversees the estate’s production of various Amarone, Valpolicella, and Soave bottlings, as well as some sweet wines and grappas.

Check out the interview below the fold!

Where were you born and raised?

I was born and raised in a small village in the Illasi Valley, east part of the Valpolicella. I attended the school of Viticulture and Enology and always collaborated with my father (who used to produce grapes for a wine cooperative) in the vineyards together with my brothers. I had the chance to live the vineyards daily, to be present in both positive and negative moments, and this experience gave us strength and will to look ahead and become curious about the world of wine.

When and how did you get into wine?

I’ve always been fascinated by wine but at the beginning it was unimaginable to become wine producer since my father was producer of grapes and didn’t want us to do anything different. Year by year we weren’t satisfied so in 1989 my brothers and I decided to buy some plots of land (MONTI GARBI, where now we have the winery), a difficult area but with good qualitative potentiality. This was the moment when we were closer to the idea of producing wine. In 1993 we met Celestino Gaspari (now owner of Zymè winery) and, with his consultation, we planned our first experience in winemaking.

What has been your career path to where you are?

Our experience started step by step, our effort was focused on improving the quality of grapes and wine, few bottles but made with care, looking for style innovation.

In your view, what makes your vineyards special?

There are several variables that can make a vineyard special. Every producer knows the characteristics of his own vineyard: first of all the soil, the exposure, the altitude, if the area is ventilated or not, etc. All these characteristics put together create a particular result.

What is your general winemaking philosophy?

Our purpose has always been to produce wines with personality, to create clean, fruity, and fresh wines. Many of our wines are made with the appassimento technique that gives concentration and density, but it’s not easy to obtain balance between alcohol, sugars and acidity. So our philosophy is creating wines with good structure and notes of fresh and fragrant fruit.

What’s your biggest challenge as a winemaker?

To impart to the final consumer our ideas, our incessant research, the difficult situations that sometimes we may have and to let them understand the work behind the wine. The result could be great or not, but the consumer has to understand that every wine is “son” of that vintage. Another challenge is to amaze with the quality of our wine.

Who are your favorite winemakers in history, through personal account, or their wines?

There are some producers from our area that have been a great inspiration, such as Dal Forno Romano and Quintarelli Giuseppe, everyone with his own style. There are famous wines that can’t avoid to make their mark such as Penfolds Grange from Australia and Opus One from California; I also like wines from Burgundy, elegant and mineral. Speaking about Italy, I love Tuscany, from Brunello di Montalcino to Bolgheri area, but the wines that touches the most are the ones from Barolo, with elegant, long-life and aromatic complexity wines.

What new winemakers are you most excited about, and why?

I’m always very curious about new winemakers, I like to understand their idea of wine, if it’s in accord with mine, but above all their style, which is a very important feature to me.

What’s your favorite wine region in the world – other than your own?


What’s the best wine you’ve ever tasted? The most interesting?

Barolo Riserva Giuseppe Mascarelo, a wine that you definitely can’t forget.

What’s the oldest bottle in your cellar? The most expensive?

The oldest and most expensive bottle is Amarone Bertani vintage 1964, a present for my wife, that I hope to open soon!

What’s open in your kitchen right now?

Verdicchio Podium 2010, Garofoli. A classic super Italian wine.

If you had to pick one red and one white to drink for the next month with every dinner, what would you choose?

Since it’s summer, I would go for a white wine from Alto Adige, it could be a Sauvignon or a Pinot Bianco only vinified in steel. About red, lately I’m attracted by Sicilian wines from Etna, made with Nerello Mascalese grapes, mineral and not too concentrated.

Is beer ever better than wine?

I drink beer in summer, I love craft beers from small producers but I never have the same feelings that I have with wine.

How do you spend your days off?

Unfortunately I don’t have many days off, I often travel for business. When I’m at home, I like to read especially history books or about political background.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

They could be surprised if I decide to leave my job, but I’ll never do it because it is my life.

If you weren’t making wine for a living, what would you be doing?

I really don’t know, this has always been my job, I never did anything different.

How do you define success?​​

I believe that success is the result or the recognition of your work, research, dedication, it’s something that has to improve your life without upsetting your balance.

Comments are closed.