Sara Vezza

Sara Vezza

Josetta Saffirio (Barolo) (Enologa/Winemaker & Owner)

"I would like to describe to you the feeling I have in April watching the new sprouts, and everything coming back to life after winter. I would like to tell you about the intense and delicate bouquet of Nebbiolo flowers in May. I would like to be able to express the joy in bringing the grapes in the cellar during the harvest in September—the work of a whole year. But it is impossible to do it with words. I hope to tell you about it through my wine."

The remarkable Sara Vezza is totally committed to working with Mother Nature. She grew up in an agricultural family in Monforte d’Alba, a municipality in Piemonte where Barolo wine is produced. She is a representative of the fifth generation. The family had cultivated and sold grapes for 200 years. In 1975, when Josetta Saffirio, Sara’s mother, who had studied agriculture, took over the estate from her father, she and her husband, Roberto, an oenologist, began producing excellent Barolo.

All this changed in 1992 when Sara was 12 years old and her younger brother was 11. The winery, which had been producing 2, 000 bottles each year, was closed and the vineyards were rented. It was too much for her parents to continue to manage the vineyards and winery in addition to their other responsibilities.

Sara loved the vineyards and working with nature. In 1999, at the age of 19, she started working with her father crushing grapes, and when she completed her university studies returned to the family estate full-time. She devoted herself to working with the vineyards with sustainable methods and also started working with her father in the cellar.

In 2006, the family built an impressive sustainable cellar, integrated with the surroundings and insulated with natural cork; Sara now uses the facility for vinifying the Josetta Saffirio wines. Her focus on sustainable solutions and technologies resulted in the winery’s receiving a Sustainable Certification in 2015. The winery was granted Organic Certification in 2017.

Sara does more than viticulture and winemaking: she also produces hazelnuts from the hazelnut trees on the farm—hazelnut orchards are common in the Piemonte region. We were delighted to be gifted a bottle of these nuts immersed in the delicious honey that is a product of the several colonies of bees kept on the Josetta Saffirio property.

The Wines. Josetta Saffirio produces 60,000 bottles; 70% of the production is exported, a figure typical for the region. The winery had exported 80% of its production in earlier years, but with their four young children, the travel required for marketing the wine became too difficult for Sara and her husband; her husband also works in the wine industry but at a different estate.

In 2009, Sara and her father began experimenting with a sparkling wine—a 100% Nebbiolo vinified according to the Classic Method. “I gradually began to understand that Nebbiolo isn’t just perfect for the production of great reds like Barolo, it’s ideal for making sparkling wine too.” Today, approximately 5,000 bottles of the Brut Rosé are produced. The 2016 Josetta Saffirio Brut Rosé (Nebbiolo d'Alba) garnered 89 points from the Wine Enthusiast, which said, “Delicately scented, this has aromas evoking spring field flower, red berry, orchard fruit and a whiff of bread dough. On the racy palate, lively acidity and vivacious perlage [quality and character of fizziness] underscore cranberry, pomegranate, and a hint of white pepper.”

In addition to its Barolo and Brut Rosé, Josetta Saffirio produces Langhe Nebbiolo and Barbera d’Alba, among other wines. Its wines have received strong reviews from wine critics, especially the Josetta Saffirio Barolo Persiera, which consistently receives high ratings within Italy and internationally. For example, the 2008 Barolo Persiera was awarded 94 points by the Wine Advocate and the 2004 Barolo Persiera 93 points.