It was back in 1908 when my grandparents, the young Gaspare and Giuseppina Ferlin, emigrated from Rovigo and opened a Venetian tavern, the Chiantiquelle - Casa Ferlin, in Zurich. Before long, they had become well-known not only in the large Italian community, but also among the Zürichers.
My grandmother was an excellent cook and my grandfather was a Venetian, a real character full of spirit. The wine served at the Chiantiquelle - Casa Ferlin didn’t come from Veneto, but from Greve in Chianti, from the Castello d’Uzzano, where Gaspare went every year to choose it himself and to bring it in demijohns on the train back to Zurich.
I got to know that unforgettable smell of the straw-covered flasks with my uncle Menotti, helping him to carry thousands of those bottles into the basement of the restaurant. So Chianti found a way into my arms and especially into my heart!
My father, Roberto senior, had another business, a beautiful clothing shop on Zurich’s prestigious Bahnhofstrasse, and he sent me abroad to learn more about the trade. For 5 years I worked and studied in England, France and Italy, with a brief period in Spain at the end. It was a wonderful, unique experience, though hard at times, and it opened by eyes to the world. I then entered the family business, which I enjoyed up to the very end.
In about 1985 I felt the longing for a change in life, to go back to my roots, to live savoring the country life, and to bring my family to the hills of Chianti and to make wine. At that time it wasn’t a “trendy” choice to make, and it was an adventure for the family. But my wife also wanted to have a country life, filled with colors and flavors.
Looking for the farm of my dreams was a great experience. First of all, I looked for two professionals who could help me find the right soil and the area where it would be possible to make the kind of wine that I had in mind. Through the many books I had read about Tuscan wines I met the enologist Vittorio Fiore, and later the agronomist Remigio Bordini. With them I discovered the Terrabianca estate on the hills of Radda in Chianti.
In 1988-89 I moved to Tuscany with my whole family, but never in our wildest dreams could we have imaged what lay before us! Living in the country and making wine is a great challenge. We had to learn everything from step one, and very quickly. School for the kids, the farm work, the winery, the people involved in wine. Everything was new, but with enthusiasm, a great deal of intuition and a lot of hard work, you can even move mountains!
My first wine was Campaccio, a creative wine, followed by two Chiantis, Scassino and Croce, the traditional wines that were the basis of my idea to “make wine.” But whereas ideas come quickly, you need time, a lot of time, to carry them out, and at the beginning you can’t imagine just what that means.
This is the big difference between producing wine and any other kind of product. The time needed to get the project going: choosing the clones, creating the vineyard, working with each individual plant to make it grow. The first grapes and the first wine from the new vines, the aging and then the great moment of tasting. It takes 3 years to make a wine, from the growing of the grapes to the aging of the wine. It takes at least 15 years to make a great wine, before the vineyards are perfectly in balance and the grape production comes together in harmony.
Wine is a language that speaks of work, imagination, creativity, and life.
I started in 1988 with the grapes of the old vines, but by 1989 we had already replanted part of them. Today the old vineyards have all been replanted, and with the new vineyards we will have 51 hectares planted in vines, with a grape quality even higher than you could imagine.
I realized very soon that if I wanted to achieve certain results with my products I would have to do things in the field, changing the vineyards with new planting systems, with greater intensity and, above all, using new select clones. The vineyards planted in the ‘50s and ‘60s were not suitable for what, in my opinion, was to be the future of my wine. Today everyone says that the wine is made in the vine. That is very true, but it’s not so easy to achieve it. It takes many years and a lot of study and experience!
With 15 clones of Sangiovese, 12 of Cabernet, 9 of Merlot and 1 clone of Canaiolo, which I selected on the basis of the relationships between soil, microclimate and exposure, I had a wide range of compositions at my disposal; thus I made a specific choice for each wine. In this way I was able to really bring out the different characteristics of the various wines, to diversify them and to give them more character, personality and, above all, to make them an expression of the “terroir.”
Now you can taste the distinct difference in every one of my wines and perceive the sensations of the variety of fragrances and aromas of our vines.
Very often I get asked: where did you get the idea to start making wine?
It’s hard to answer that question, because deep down people have feelings, sensations and instincts that they can’t explain even to themselves.
The idea of making a new life in the country with vineyards and olive groves was so fascinating and mysterious that I put everything I had into making it work. Then, when the earth began to “speak” and to make the plants grow, the grapes and the olives, I couldn’t help but listen to it, admire it, and be inspired by it.
This is what my products come from, the type of wine, the style, the Villa il Tesoro hotel and restaurant, and everything that we have created in the last few years with the hard work and commitment of the whole family and that of the talented people I have working with me.
Campaccio, Campaccio Selezione, Ceppate, Cipresso, Croce, Il Tesoro, Scassino, and La Fonte are wonderful wines, known in many countries all over the world.
These names are the names of our vineyards, old names that come from the tradition of the beautiful Terrabianca estate.
“The art of making wine is the art of living , drinking great wine is the art of pleasure”