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Winemaker Spotlight: Luigi Sarno, Cantina del Barone

Don’t be surprised when you see a peacock or two strutting past you at Cantina del Barone - it’s a nod to the heritage of the land’s origins. Luigi Sarno’s family has lived and worked this land since, well forever, but they only started calling it their own in the 1970’s when Luigi’s father purchased the land from the Baron (yes, literal nobility) the family had worked for over the generations. Hence the winery name, Winery from the Baron.

Luigi and his family have two incredible “particellas” of Fiano vines, and he is crafting some of my favorite wines. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you his wines are even transformative. It’s a borderline issue how much I love these wines If I’m being honest with you. Luigi is passionate, knowledgeable and charming and that all comes together in the about 12,000 bottles he'll produce annually - so jump on the chance to fill your cellar at every opportunity.

Tell me more:

  • What is Fiano? This is an indigenous white wine grape to Irpinia that dates back 2000 years and flourishes in Irpinia thanks in large part to the clay soils enriched by the volcanic ash from a Mt. Vesuvius eruption dating back 10,000 years. This is a delicate grape, and the successful maturation process is helped greatly by the 20+ degree (F) temperature drops from night to day during the summer thanks to the close proximity to the Apennine Mountains. You’ll often note hints of apple, hazelnut and maybe even a touch of honey, but this wine is by no means sweet. Serve chilled, but not too cold and pairs with anything from charcuterie to seafood.

  • I heard Luigi has a doctorate in winemaking. Is that true? Yes! Not only was Luigi raised among the grapevines and the family farm, he is also a certified doctor of winemaking. He’s also been consistently named one of the top young winemakers of the region.

  • So why are these wines so good? There’s no way to boil it down to just one thing - but from that first sip, this wine is an experience. The taste and smells jump out of the glass and you’ll instantly notice the freshness of this white wine. Structured and balanced, this wine has structure and minerality that makes these Fianos stand out among other wines making it one of my top favorites among reds and whites.

  • Do they do anything else at Cantina del Barone? Oh yes…in addition to their small family farm where they grow fruits and vegetables of the season (used in the kitchen of one of my favorite local chefs!), they have acres of hazelnut trees as well.

  • So, are there really peacocks there? Yes! Not a joke and they love to show off their tail feathers for visitors. They used to be served as dinner for nobility who thought chicken was too much of a peasant food, but don’t worry, the peacocks live lovely, stress free lives today.

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