I met Silvia for the first time in Spain during a week of tastings. She is the kind of person who is passionated, energetic, dynamic and smiling. A mini tornado! I am very impressed by her ability to mix tradition, family business with her feminine twist and spontaneity. This is a subtil balance that is not always easy to find. A balance and an energy that I found while tasting her wines, the great #Barolos from #LaMorra from the family estate Elio Altare.
She kindly accepted to receive me at the estate in #LaMorra for making this interview. I discover her personality which matches with the energy in her wines. Silvia is very inspiring and as vibrant as her wines.
Could you please introduce yourself and explain your career?
I have been working with my family since I was a teenager like in any family. When I was young, I helped randomly between school, trips… My parents never insisted we be involved in the wine industry. They always gave us the choice to follow the carrer we wanted. My sister Elena is not involved in the winery. She felt in love of a German guy and decided to move to Germany and now she has three kids.
For me it was a different story. Since I was young, I knew that I wanted to join the family estate but before working hard, I wanted to have some fun. I studied economics… that was not fun! But I did it! Then, I worked in Burgundy at Le Serbet. This is when I started to visit many wineries and I met some of the greatest personalities of Burgundy. After this experience, I worked in California and Australia where I did some harvests. It was only in January 2003 that my parents told me that now I was 24 and it was time to make a decision. I decided to settle down in La Morra and start working in the family business.
Do you have a daily routine?
In the summer, I always have a coffee at 5:30am with my workers before they start. After, depending on the weather, I organize the day. It can be working in the vineyards, labelling, racking, working in the office, doing visits or travelling in the different markets. I don’t have an average day, I just have to know how to do a little bit of everything. That was also the way my dad managed the business.
What is your favorite moment of the day?
My best moment is when I sit down to lunch with my parents. My mum cooks like if it was a wedding lunch every day. I love it! I also love when I fall asleep and I know that I have done what I had to do. In the morning, I wake up and I prepare a To Do list. At the end of the day, when everything is crossed off; it is the best feeling I could have.
How do you “recharge” your batteries”?
I am an introverted and an extraverted person. I like hanging out with people, but I recharge my batteries by myself. I read a lot, I run, I hike, I play with my dog Pongo or I cook.
I can have 5 business diners in a week so I like also to be alone to reconnect to myself and to recharge my batteries.
What is the most exciting thing in your job?
I like meeting amazing people from all over the world. For instance, during a tasting, Brazilians, Mexicans, Swedes and New Zealanders are around the table and they are all here to hear the same story and to drink my wines. This is a feeling really special!
Who are the winemakers that inspire you?
Becky Wasserman and Russell Hone from Le Serbet inspire me a lot. They are not winemakers, but they always treat me like their daughter. If we talk about winemakers, Chantal and Frédéric Lafarge inspire me a lot. I love them. I can mention other names, hundreds of names… I can say that I have been to the Romanée Conti twice and I have helped rack their Echezeaux Grand Cru 1997 for two hours. However, the winemakers who inspire me the most are the Lafarges.
What are you the most proud of?
I am very pround of the history of my family and to be able to continue the heritage that my parents left me. It is a great honor for me to travel around the world, in America, South America or Sweden and to pronounce the word “Barolo”. Only 50 years ago, nobody knewwhere Barolo was. Now, Barolo is on the map. I am proud to say that my family contributed to this and I am very proud to carry this on.
What is your next challenge or project?
I just want to make good wines as my father did and maybe one day I could do even better! I like my generation. There are a lot of us women in the industry in Barolo, which is totally new compared to my parents’ generation. Now, there is Rinaldi, Gaja, Mascarello, Scavino, Sandrone… The challenge now is to be a woman who makes good wines.
Stream of consciousness
- Music : House and techno especially when I am running and I like listening sounds like that.
- Book : Italian books, but I also read in English. I am not a novel fan, I prefer thrillers, mysteries or spy stories.
- Movie : Pulp Fiction is my favorite movie, I have seen it thousand times!
- Meal : I like cooking home made pasta (gnochhi, ravioli..) and I love preparing a tiramisu because I eat it while I make it! I always make double portions and, in the end there is at least one portion left!
- Vintage : If I am talking about Barolo, I will pick up the one I had yesterday for lunch with friends: 1992. Not a fantastic year and it was amazing !
- Wine grape : Pinot Noir
- Destination : I want to go to Thailand, I miss Thai food
- Perfume : I love spicies like incense. For my job, I cannot wear perfume, so I use oils such as musc oil, cedar. I don’t like flowers like roses.
- A treat : Chocolate, I am a Nutella addict (I sometimes eat it with a spoon!) and when I can, peanut butter.
Marie-Pierre Dardouillet (Editor and photographer)
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