Paola Rocca

Paola Rocca

Albino Rocca (Barbaresco) (Enologa/Winemaker & Family Owner)

Most important is the land, the family, continuing the land, and the need to find the right balance with size.”

The energetic and radiant Paola Rocca grew up surrounded with wine. From a very young age she remembers being happy in the cellar working with her father, Angelo Rocca, and the joy of crushing grapes with her feet. The youngest of three children, all daughters, she was the only child who knew early on that her passion was with wine.

Paola enrolled in the Scuola Enologica di Alba at the age of 14 and graduated from its rigorous six-year program in 2002. Only 20 years old at the time, she immediately began working full-time as an enologa with her father at the family winery. To the great surprise of her family, the next year, at only 21 years old, she married Carlo Castellengo, the son of another Barbaresco wine family and an enologo as well, who had been mentored by her father and was five years her senior. Paola’s older sister, Monica, who graciously assisted with translations during our conversation, told us that she cried and cried at her wedding. “Paolo was so young!”

Paola continues today as the enologa for Albino Rocca, and works hand in hand with Carlo in the vineyards and cellar: “We share all aspects of the viticulture and vinification.” They make for a passionate and loving team. Monica noted that one constantly sees them quietly in conversation. With 17 labels and a production of 100,000 bottles, there is much to discuss. In addition, they are implementing sustainable farming practices and focusing on quality and finding the right balance for the size of their estate. No machines are used for harvest, and the same four employees have worked at Albino Rocca for 20 years. As part of finding the right balance with size and quality, the production of wine has been decreased somewhat, and all of the grapes now used are only from the Albino Rocca estate’s 18 hectares of vineyards.

Carlo, who had worked part-time with the family for a number of years while also working full-time at his father’s nearby winery, came on full-time after the death of Angelo Rocca in 2012; Angelo was tragically killed in the crash of his private plane. Paola’s two older sisters have also returned to the family business. Daniela, the eldest daughter, returned in 2010 after a successful career in banking, and Monica, who studied law, joined the family team in 2007. Daniela and Monica handle the sales and marketing for Albino Rocca—70% of their production is exported to other countries.

Paola totally embraces the complexity and difficulty of her work. She sees the characteristics of her success “as pleasure in my work and love for the land and for my family.” Paola and Carlo’s two sons, born in 2005 and 2009, respectively, work in the vineyards during the summer, and hopefully will inherit their parents’ passion for enology and viticulture and for preserving the land.

The Wines. Albino Rocca is widely recognized as a producer of elegant Barbarescos. Paola’s eyes sparkled when we toured their extensive cellars and tasted her and Carlo’s fresh and fruity Langhe Chardonnay da Bertu 2018 and wonderful Albino Rocca Barbaresco Montersino 2015.

Three vineyards contribute to the production of the Nebbiolo grapes that go into the making of the award-winning Albino Rocca Barbaresco: Vigna Loreto (within the larger cru of Ovello), Ronchi, and Montersino, all remarkable crus of the appellation. Their latest release is Barbaresco “Angelo” made from grapes of the Ovello, Ronchi, and Montersino crus and vinified in the traditional way, a tribute from Paola, Monica and Daniela to their father.

Their exceptional wines not only reflect the unique terroir of their vineyards, but also the passion of the talented Paola and her talented spouse, Carlo, as acknowledged by the excellent reviews from Italian and international wine critics. The Barbaresco Vigna Loreto Ovello, 2015, for example, received a score of 96 from Wine Spectator, and both the Barbaresco Montersino 2015 and Barbaresco Ronchi 2015 earned scores of 92. It should be noted that in addition to Chardonnay and Barbaresco, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, Cortese, and Moscato wines are also produced.