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Interview of Mr.Piero Rossi Cairo – Owner and CEO – La Raia and Tenuta Cucco (Tenimenti Rossi Cairo) for AsiaImportNews – Exclusive
Could you please tell us the story of your winery, when it was created and how it developed decades after decades ?
La Raia is a biodynamic farm, Demeter certified. It is set in Novi Ligure (Alessandria), in the gentle hills of Piedmont’s Gavi wine region, an area with a long viticulture history due to its unique climate, which favors the maturation of the grapes.
It is an estate of 180 hectares, including 42 of vineyards and 60 of fields; the remaining are pastures, chestnut, elderflower and acacia woodlands, inhabited by wild animals.
The Rossi Cairo family bought La Raia in 2003, with the aim of recovering and enhancing the original ecosystem through a broad intervention project inspired by biodynamic principles. Soon lands and vineyards were cultivated according to the biological method instead of the traditional one. A new winery was built, using natural materials; crop rotation was restored to develop the soil deep fertility, and ancient cultivations, like the cereal spelt, were rediscovered. Finally, livestock pasture farming was reintroduced as well.
We’ve recently completed the renovation of Borgo Merlassino, one of the 19th century farmsteads in our estate. It is a small accommodation structure set in the quite Gavi hills. It now opens its doors to those who want to experience nature completely. In April we opened Locanda La Raia, a green mansion nestled among vineyards, grazing land and woods of La Raia estate. Here, the comfortable interiors interact with the beauty of the surrounding nature. The twelve rooms, all different, and the sophisticated living areas welcome the guests with a combination of antique Piedmont furniture and contemporary designer’s elements. Furnished with unique pieces that reflect the taste of the owners, Locanda La Raia’s welcoming style is made of simplicity at a relaxed pace, complemented by discreet, dedicated service.
What sort of wines are you producing ?
At La Raia we produce three types of Gavi D.O.C.G. – Gavi, Gavi Riserva Vigna della Madonnina and Gavi Pisé, the latter our cru which remains for 20 months on its own lees – and two types of Piemonte D.O.C. Barbera – Barbera and Barbera Largé, which refines in oak barriques for 18 months, and then continues aging also in the bottle
How important are your export distribution compared to national distribution ?
Tradionally, Gavi is a white wine which is really appreciated abroad where it has developed its fortune and its brand. In the recent years, also thanks to the activity of the Gavi Consortium, Gavi is strengthening its position in emerging markets like Asia and producers have been investing in marketing and promotional activities once again in Italy, its natural market but ironically not developed enough.
What sort of distributors are your customers ?
Our typical customer is an importer who has a good selection of Piemonte wines and is looking to add in its portfolio a mineral white wine from such region. With Arneis, Gavi is probably the most famous white wine of Piemonte.
Why your wines are different from other wineries in your area ?
Our peculiarity is to practice byodinamic farming which brought ten years ago our Gavi and Barbera to obtain the Demeter byodinamic certification. There are actually only two byodinamic certified producers of Gavi. As byodinamic, we do not practice monoculture and therefore, aside from wine, we also produce spelt and honey.
Do you produce grapes in a organic or environmental friendly method, or with general methods ?
Our vines – some of which are over seventy years old – are planted in a clay limestone land, which favors the typical mineral hint of the Cortese grapes. The biodynamic farming has allowed, in addition, to recover completely the peculiarities of this terroir. We chose to use a green manure among the rows and dynamized horn manure to fertilize the soil deeply. Cave sulphur and copper are sprayed in small doses in specific periods of the year, while light tractors are used to work on the vineyards. Pruning happens during a descending moon. La Raia turned out to be also an authentic biodiversity oasis for bees and other pollinating insects, which can still find – as it used to be in the past – such a variety of nectars and pollens able to grant to beehives health and productivity all year long. The farm can now produce three organic honeys: an aromatic early summer wildflower honey, a unique honeydew honey and a monofloral acacia honey, extremely difficult to find this year in Europe.
Are your wines already distributed in Asia, and if not what are the countries you are looking for new distributors ?
Currently we work very well in Japan but we are not present in any other Asian country. China, Thailand and Malaysia are probably some of the next countries where we are going to concentrate our marketing efforts and where we see more chances to find a partner in light of the increasing consumer demand.
Is there anything who want to add about your wines, story or any news ?
La Raia estate also includes a kindergarten and a Steiner school. They were born seven years ago from an idea by Caterina Rossi Cairo and managed by Intorno al Melo, a no profit association. Today nearly 30 children attend them. In June 2013 the Fondazione La Raia – arte cultura territorio (La Raia Foundation – art culture territory) was born, to fulfil a strong desire by Giorgio Rossi Cairo. The foundation aims at promoting critical reflections on the landscape, through contributions from various fields of study. Artists, philosophers, landscapers, photographers and architects are invited to come, experience the vineyards, fields and woodlands of La Raia, and offer scope – through their contributions and artworks – for new knowledge and new aspects of identity. www.fondazionelaraia.it
Thank you Mr.Piero Rossi Cairo – Owner and CEO – La Raia and Tenuta Cucco for your time and answers!
La Raia: www.la-raia.it
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