Visit to the Cappellano Winery
@ via Alba 13, Serralunga d'Alba, Piedmont, Italy (7/5/2016)

The morning of my third day in the Langhe began with a morning visit another favorite winery, Cappellano in Serralunga d'Alba. This legendary winery has been a Fine Wine Geek favorite for a long time. Here is the FWG page on Cappellano.

For each image, I have posted a compressed (and possibly cropped) version. Click on it to see the original, much larger image.

It was a short drive from my hotel to the winery as depicted in the aerial map photo below:
Original aerial map photo © Google Maps.

Entering Serralunga d'Alba heading south on SP125 and then passing Fontanafredda on the left:

Then arriving at the Cappellano Winery on the right:

Winery History

The winery was founded by Filippo Cappellano who bought almost 60 hectares of vineyard. He had been a notary by profession. Officially, the winery says it was founded in 1870, however a Barolo was produced as far back as 1861. According to A Wine Atlas of the Langhe, Filippo had 2 sons and 2 daughters. When he died in 1886, the estate was split among his 4 children. Partible inheritance was the common practice in Piedmont. However, as was also common practice at the time, each daughter was bought out by her brothers in return for a dowry of 100,000 lire.

Giovanni Cappellano, being the older of the 2 brothers, dropped out of university to manage the winery. His younger brother, Giuseppe stayed in school, eventually earning a doctorate in pharmacy. Giovanni ran and expanded the family business including opening 2 hotels in Alba and Serralunga, but he died suddenly in 1912 from a tropical disease which he caught in North Africa while searching for phylloxera-resistant grape vines. This forced Dott. Giuseppe Cappellano to return home from Turin where he had already developed a successful business by inventing wine-based products including grape jellies, medicines, and most famously, Barolo Chinato.

Giuseppe eventually became one of the legendary figures of Piedmont due to his exceptional leadership of the Cappellano winery, his invention of Barolo Chinato, and his key role with the very large Gancia winery in Canelli. In 1915, the Gancia Winery, already the largest winery in Piedmont, bought the Mirafiore wine brand based in Serralunga d'Alba, "with the intention of developing these great Piedmontese wines in their land of origin." Camillo Gancia, the owner of the Gancia Winery entrusted Dott. Giuseppe Cappellano with the management of the winemaking side of this business. Between this and his own winery (now named the Dott. G. Cappellano Winery), Giuseppe became the de facto arbiter of grape prices and vineyard quality throughout the Barolo zone.

In 1955, Dott. Giuseppe Cappellano died. The business was then run by 3 nephews of Dr. Cappellano, including Teobaldo's father, Francesco Augusto Cappellano.

Teobaldo Cappellano was born in the Italian colony of Eritrea in eastern Africa in 1944, where his father had settled after fighting there with the Italian army. He was the great-grandson of winery founder Filippo Cappellano, the grandson of Giovanni Cappellano, and the great-nephew of Dott. Giuseppe Cappellano. In 1968, Teobaldo's father died. In 1969, Teobaldo returned to Serralunga. And in 1970, took over the firm and began making the wine. In The Mystique of Barolo by Maurizio Rosso, Teobaldo says that he learned to make wine in Eritrea where they made wine from rehydrated raisins! It was Teobaldo who brought the Cappellano name back to prominence by purchasing a quality parcel of vines in the Gabutti Vineyard, reintroducing the Barolo Chinato invented by his great-uncle, producing wine of great quality, and just by being a fascinating character.

Sadly, Teobaldo Cappellano passed away on February 21, 2009. He was 65 years old. The winery is now run by his son, Augusto Cappellano, who had already been managing the winery for several years due to his father's illness. I had hoped to meet Augusto on this visit, but he has been very busy ever since his father's passing and was not available.


Around 1985, Teobaldo Cappellano purchased a 10-acre (4-hectare) parcel in the Gabutti vineyard in Serralunga d'Alba from a farmer named Fiorin. Teobaldo named this parcel "Otin Fiorin", meaning "Garden of Fiorino". The winery had been buying grapes from this parcel since 1976. Starting in the late 1980s, Cappellano began labeling its estate Barolo with both "Otin Fiorin" and "Gabutti" (sometimes "Collina Gabutti").

In 1989, Teobaldo replanted approximately one third of his "Otin Fiorin" parcel in Gabutti with Nebbiolo vines grown on European root stock using the Michet clone of Nebbiolo. Starting with the 1997 vintage, the wine from only this one third has been labeled with the phrase "Pi� Franco - Michet" at the bottom of the label, while the remaining two thirds of the Barolo is labeled "Pi� Rupestris - Nebioli". "Pi� Rupestris" here refers to American root stock and "Nebioli" indicates that the clones in this portion of the vineyard are a mix of various Nebbiolo clones. "Pi� Franco" indicates European roots stock and "Michet" refers to the specific clone in that parcel.

You can find out much more about this winery, its wines and vineyards on the Fine Wine Geek's Cappellano page.

The most significant piece of news from my visit is that they lost the lease on a vineyard in Novello that was used for Nebbiolo d'Alba and Dolcetto d'Alba. So starting in 2014 or 2015, there will be only Barolo Franco, Barolo Rupestris, Barbera Gabutti, Barolo Chinato and a small amount of Grappa from their Barolo skins.

The Winery

This building has been used for the production of Cappellano wines since
it was acquired by Teobaldo in 1970 when he took control of the winery.

Inside the tasting room of the winery:

Some interesting bottles around the tasting room:

Legends: 1958 Barbaresco and the 1990 Barolo Otin Fiorin from the Gabutti vineyard:

Winery Tour

Scotsman David Pollock was the host. A very nice young man who has made beer and scotch, but is relatively new to wine. Also on this tour were two young couples from Norway and their 3 adorable children.

Various Large Botti used for aging the wines:

Some Medium Botti used for aging the wines:

An old fermenter and large blending tanks:

The older concrete fermentation tanks are the smaller ones on the right with the red trim.
The tall ones on the left are only two years old:

Some new wood fermentation tanks:


David gets us each a taste of the 2014 Rupestris.
The kids wonder where theirs is?

David says the average age of the vines for Rupestris is 75 years old. Only about 2000 bottles of Franco are made each vintage, so none was available to taste. About 10,000 bottles are made of the Rupestris, which is not a lot either.

While we were tasting, one of the other men on the tour asked a question about vineyard management. When David said he didn't know the answer, I answered the question. When I looked back at David, the other man was staring at me. He asked me, "When he introduced you, he said your name is Ken. Are you Ken Vastola?" Turns out he knew me from the Barbaresco and Barolo group on Facebook. It is a small world when you love Barolo and Barbaresco.

The 2015 Franco in the tank. I'm hoping this isn't all there is.

This is all the 2015 Nebbiolo d'Alba that there is. It will be kept in-house. 2015 was the last vintage in which Cappellano will produce a Nebbiolo d'Alba, since they lost the lease on the Novello vineyard that provided the bulk of its production.


Next, I had a 2:30 appointment at Vietti and plenty of time to the drive 10 minutes to Castiglione Falletto and get a bite to eat. That is, until I went the wrong way and spent an hour driving through the mountain town of Perno. The good news is, I got some great views. See Getting Lost in Perno with great views of Castiglione Falletto & Serralunga d'Alba.



All original content © Ken Vastola