Luca Currado

Bye-bye, Vietti!

First time I met Luca Currado back in 2006 – I was visiting Langhe with a big group of sommeliers, we had a huge tasting at his winery, then we went to a restaurant for dinner. Everything was so intense that I didn’t make it out in which village we were (I was new to Barolo area, my first visit happened in 2004 only).

The second major “event” in our relationship took place in 2007. We met accidentally at Vinexpo Bordeaux, I had just come back from my first harvest in Chile, full with fresh impressions. We talked about that and I joked that it wouldn’t be bad to do a harvest in good ol’ Europe to see the difference. Luca said “Yeah, why not? Be at Vietti in September”. So that’s how my first harvest in Barolo happened.

Then, in 2010 when I finished my studies in the Turin University, for various reasons I needed to stay in Italy and Luca helped me to rent a house from an aunt of his, in his village – Castiglione Falletto. So we became neighbors.

In 2012 I called Luca and said: “Listen, I have an investor, could you give me a hand to set up a winery ‘from zero’ in Barolo?”. “Yeah, why not?” said Luca and we worked together for 4 more years (but this was not a public affair).

All that is to say that Luca is not at all the typical Langhe man, though he’s a Langhe ‘DOCG’ to the bones. Imagine another local person, from the wine business, helping a foreigner to set up a winery in Barolo? Oh, yeah! So, when in 2016 Luca made the wine world shake for a couple of months after the sale of Vietti winery to the Americans, that was completely unexpected even for me (and back then we saw each other nearly every day), but I was not that surprised – Luca Currado could have done that. Given our good relations, I was among the first to take a big interview with him (it’s still available, but not in a very ‘popular’ language nowadays, maybe I will translate it later).

Yesterday, when I read Manuel Bürgi’s post about Luca & Elena leaving Vietti I was, once again, not that surprised. It should have happened, sooner or later, though I thought it would take place much later. So I sent Luca a message wishing him and Elena good luck with their “new life” and asked him, when everything calms down and he has some free time, would he be willing to give me an interview once again? “No problem, you can call me now”, said Luca. Soooo Luca!

Jesus! I was at lunch with 20 noisy Americans. In the Langhe it was nearly 9 p.m. I quickly found a relatively quiet place and tried to call Luca. The line went down 3 or 4 times but at the end we managed to finish the interview.

Luca! Ma che ca**o hai combinato? What happened?

– You know, my  friend, it was not an easy decision, but when you win the Champions League it’s better to step down at that very moment.

– Knowing you, it shouldn’t have been a dramatic or traumatic break down?

– No, absolutely. We’ve been planning that for a year. Now that it’s been announced we have to work for 3 more months by contract and then we are free.

– So, what happened?

– As I told you – we won the “Champions league”. After 2016 I’ve worked a lot on the new investments, Vietti acquired many new vineyards in very important crus. Huge improvements were made in marketing and sales. And even though the total production haven’t increased a lot, the turnover rose from 6 mln euro in 2016 to 17,6 mln last year (2022). Not a bad result, what do you think? Our cru Barolos sell for more than 100 eur a bottle ex works, the riserva goes from 300 and up, we are consistently getting top reviews and ratings of our wines.

– But … there should be a “but”…

– Yes. But… Vietti makes part of a very large American corporation. And large corporations do not fit well in Langhe mentality. It’s just not my thing. I’ve understood that I am not willing to spend my life in everyday corporate meetings and long term planning. No, I can’t. I’ve learned a lot from the Americans for so many years working with them but there are things that do not fit in our reality.

– I imagined that this would happen but didn’t think that only after 6 years.

– Well, if you have a child, you have to be patient until he/she learns how to walk. And we were, we taught the child to walk. But you know in Italy “children” stay with their parents until they are 35-40 years old. I do not share that concept, so as soon as our new Italian-American child was ready to go ahead on its own we let him go.

– By the way did you sell only the new winery in Serralunga to Krause?

– No, we sold both.

– But your house and your mom’s house are kind of a part of the historic winery. Do you still live there?

– Mom still does, we moved out and bought a house two blocks down. By the way we also bought the Cascina Lazzarito, do you remember it?

– Oh yes, I do. When I was looking for a building to make a winery this one was also offered to me but there was a not very regular rent contract on it and we couldn’t wait until it resolved. A fantastic place, congratulations![1] So what’s next? Are you opening a new winery there on your name?

– No, I am not. Basta! Actually, Elena started her own project some time ago with vermouth and different spirits and it goes very well. So, we will be concentrating on that.

– What about your consultancy work? Querciabella is still “on the boat”?

– Yes, it is. I have some more new clients, one winery in Montalcino, a couple more in other places that I can’t name as, you know… how it is in our small winemakers’ world.

– So, you don’t want to make wine with your own hands anymore?

– No. But! But! If Michele or Giulia (their children – Ω) one day decide to set up a winery I would give them a hand with great pleasure.

– OK. Thanks for the interview! I will send you the text before I publish it for checking.

– There’s no need. I know you will write only the good things.

– Thank you! Good luck to you and Elena! Enjoy your freedom.

By the way, those of you who live in the US will have a chance to see Luca soon, still in his vest of Vietti’s CEO at Galloni’s “La Festa del Barolo” (Los Angeles, January 28, and that’s tomorrow, and New York, February 1-4). So you could ask Luca & Elena your own questions.

Featured photo: Luca Currado at the terrace of Vietti’s historic winery, harvest 2012. Photo by Οινωτρον©

[1] Cascina Lazzarito, apart from the fantastic location on a curve of the road a couple of kilometers before you enter Serralunga, has a beautiful panoramic view on half of Barolo area and also is nearly the size of the Serralunga castle.