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Il Borro: the Ferragamo family’s carbon-negative vineyard

We talk vino with Salvatorre Ferregamo, the oldest grandson of the legendary shoemaker and scion of the Ferragamo luxury empire.

It seems like the Ferragamo family — more famed as one of Italy’s foremost fashion houses — is growing a reputation not just for fine shoes, but also wine. They already own two estates in Italy, each producing critically-acclaimed vino. There’s Castiglion del Bosco in Tuscany, which was purchased by youngest Ferragamo scion Massimo in 2003. The estate has gone on to produce a series of vintages of Brunello di Montalcino based on the Chinese zodiac — the 2010 vintage, the “rooster”, was awarded 99 point by James Suckling.

Then there’s Il Borro, which acquired in 1993 by Massimo’s brother, and the oldest son of Salvatore Ferragamo, Ferruccio. While Castiglion del Bosco already had a strong history of winemaking — over a century — Il Borro is wholly the effort of the Ferragamos. 

The estate also operates as a luxury resort, and functions as a holiday home for the Ferragamos, and running it all is Ferruci’s son, Salvatore (the oldest son of the oldest son takes the name of the grandfather). 

  • The Il Borro estate functions as both a luxury resort, and the holiday home for the Ferragamo family

Unlike much of the family, the younger Ferragamo decided to branch out from fashion to go into hospitality, and studied winemaking in preparation for viticulture on the estate. The wines at Il Borro are terroir-driven, organic, and sustainable, with the entire property producing so much of their own solar energy that they’re carbon-negative.

Out of the 700ha of estate land, 45 is dedicated to vineyards, which produces over 250, 000 bottles a year. Grapes grown are mostly international, with different varieties growing on the soil parcel that best suits it — Super Tuscan varietals, Chardonnay, and Sangiovese all grow on in different areas.

With the lattermost, indigenous grape they make the Petruna DOC, an Amphora-aged wine bursting with bright fruits and energy, with minerality and complexity to keep things interesting. True to Il Borro’s approach to wines, the Petruna is also made under the Valdarno di Sopra DOC — Italy’s youngest designation, which allows a wider range of grape varietals to be grown in the land that best suits them; while ensuring that the wines are organic. 

Salvatore Ferragamo

Salvatore Ferragamo

Does the wine/hospitality side of the family business mix with the fashion side of things?

No. We actually try to keep them separate so as to build awareness for Il Borro. Associating the two only leaves [Il Borro] in the shadow of the Ferragamo brand. 

Il Borro is also a holiday home for the family — do you feel like you’re always on holiday or always working?

I love my job at Il Borro and my family.  So I’m incredibly lucky in that sense because I find great passion for all that we do on the estate. So maybe I’m really on holiday all the time.

You’ve been working biodynamic practices into the vineyards — how did this idea start? Are you planning to go fully biodynamic?

I feel like sustainable farming is more of a responsibility towards our planet and the generations to come.  With the new biodynamic and organic practices today, farming this way has become much more feasible.  One day I would hope to produce fully biodynamic wines, possibly with the Demeter certification – but I’m still a bit skeptical on how those wines would travel.   

Have you noticed if climate change is affecting the vineyards over the years? If so, have your processes changed over the years to account for the changing weather? 

We have definitely seen an increase in temperature. Because we usually harvest our grapes at a higher maturity, that can sometimes can lead to high sugar level. To control this, we closely monitor the process to anticipate the harvest, ensuring that we pick the grapes at the right time so that the wines are still elegant.  

There is some amount of exploration with the wines at Il Borro — like with the Petruna — is there something else you’re excited to try next?

Yes! We are working with a grower to farm a single vineyard — two hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon — biodynamically, and with only horses so that there’s no soil compression. 

 

Il Borro wines are distributed by Enoteca in Singapore. Buy them here

Images: Il Borro