SANTO STEFANO VINEYARD
By 1742, Manfredo Bongiovanni, Count of Castelborgo had registered the “Cassina di S. Stefano” in the Cabreo, a public register of property.
Santo Stefano was clearly venerated by the family, as their altar in the parish church was also dedicated to him.
The architect Giovanni Antonio Borgese, administrator of the Castelborgo estate, noted the following in his inventory:
‘production of 536 brente (historic Piedmontese measure of volume equal to 50 litres) of ‘black wine’, of which 100 of "Nebioli” from the “Cassina di S. Stefano”.
The Castelborgo or their winemakers had already understood that the Nebbiolo of Santo Stefano was unique, and merited separate vinification and storage.
In 1964, along with the Castello, Giacomo Stupino purchased several of its vineyards.
«Surveyor Giacomo», as he became known, was well-acquainted with the parcels of land around Neive, as he had measured practically all of them.
Given the choice between the partly fallow Santo Stefano vineyard and other, equally famous and already-planted vineyards in the area, he had no doubt.
Italo Stupino remembers: «Our father chose Santo Stefano, because he was aware of the enormous potential of this unique hill. That was–and still is–our great fortune.». It's enough to see the hill after every snowfall to understand how right he was…..
The partnership with Bruno Giacosa
In the same year, "Cru Santo Stefano” appeared on the Barbaresco labels of the Castello di Neive and Bruno Giacosa. It was the beginning of a partnership that went on until 2011, without the benefit of contracts nor legal obligations.
Between 1967 and 1970 all the fallow parts of Santo Stefano were replanted.
As a result of this work, more than six hectares of Nebbiolo in the Santo Stefano vineyard are more than 50 years old, with all the advantages that this confers on quality.
Italo recalls that American rootstocks were planted first and then grafted with cuttings from the estate’s best vines.
n 2001, the remaining vines planted by the Riccardi-Candiani no longer met expectations, and were replaced with a new vineyard, planted partly with Nebbiolo and partly with Barbera.
In the Nebbiolo vineyard, five of the most promising clones from the C.N.R. and the University of Turin were used.
This allowed us to evaluate the response of each of these clones to the soil in the Santo Stefano vineyard and to then choose the best to replace failing vines.
The new plantings
In 2006, we decided to plant a new vineyard on the hilltop and assign the south-west facing portion to Barbera.
For the east-facing part, a variety new to the estate, Riesling Renano, was chosen; the objective was to replicate, in a variety which is renowned for it, the minerality typically present in Santo Stefano wines.
And finally in 2011, we planted a small portion of Nebbiolo with cuttings from previously tested and successful clones, along with a new, untested clone to compare with selections from the older vineyards of Santo Stefano and Valtorta.