We are a family of winegrowers and, for over 150 years, we have been passionately devoted to the cultivation of Nebbiolo. This is a rare grape variety that, over the centuries, has adapted to the Valtellina, a land like no other, where everything is still done by hand. For 5 generations we have always waited for “the time it takes” “the right waiting time” and it is this that sets the pace of our work. Time and humility are what make our wine the purest, sincerest expression of this land and of the people who cultivate it with such dedication. This was the lesson we were taught by our father Arturo, without letting ourselves be influenced by passing fashions and conventional tastes.
The traditional Valtellina method adopted by the Pelizzatti Perego family has been written down in the company books since 1860, just prior to the Unification of Italy. It is with these hand-written books that Mamma Giovanna taught Emanuele, Isabella and Guido. Arturo set the example of the tenacity needed to face the challenges that a vintner is faced with in the Valtellina and, as fate would have it, just when 2004 came to an end, the fifth generation of the family took over at the helm of ARPEPE.
Some remember him in the vineyard, others as a racing driver, yet others as the Tailor of Sassella, and many would simply not have the time to tell you all the stories about him. Arturo was a man who left traces of his passing, like a climber opening up a new ascent in the Rhaetian Alps. Arturo was able to see beyond what to others appeared as the twilight of Valtellina wines, and, going against the current, he was one of the first to catch sight of their new dawn.
In 1969, the year when she married Arturo, the hit parade in Italy included such singles as Rose Rosse by Massimo Ranieri in sixth place, Lucio Battisti’s Mi ritorni in mente in eleventh and the Beatles’ Come Together in fourteenth. Giovanna still sings those songs with her full, rich voice and, when she decides it’s time to leave centre-stage, she will give just one more masterful rendering of Nessuno mi può giudicare – this “let no one judge me” shows what mettle she is made of. It is with this indomitable spirit that she still drives today from her home to the wine cellar, through the vineyards and along the city streets, to see how things are going. The sixth generation now needs looking after and so, with the resolute spirit of one who knows what needs to be done, she puts the motor into a new gear, and off she goes... Like back in the day, when she would put some bottles of Rocce Rosse in her bag, and go from restaurant to restaurant across all Lombardy to show them the elegance and finesse of the wines that the Tailor of Sassella put together exclusively for his Queen.
Isabella is the top-performance engine in the ARPEPE racing team. No energy conservation label has yet been devised to describe these models. She is at her best on the international circuits. Her sorties on the highways of America are the stuff of legend and she is a sight to see when she takes on the best of the Japanese culinary brigades. From Hong Kong to Sydney and then a couple of days in Montreal, before leaving for Oslo. Greetings to the Queen and a Guinness in Dublin, followed by a restful night in the enchantment of Paris.
Uncle Peppo Perego won a gold medal for military valour as an Alpino and his diary tells of his experience during the retreat from Russia. Guido – “Peppo” to his family – seems to have inherited not just his name but also his passion for writing. On a different front, however, which is that of communication and social networks, where the battle is not hand-to-hand, but one that tells of the lives of mountain folk, accustomed to withstanding the freezing winter nights, the way Nebbiolo vines do in the Valtellina.
It seems that, as a teenager, he never really noticed what his father had in store for him. He sensed little more than the suffering and the anger of the worst moments, when a single glance would cause sparks in the air... a hailstorm in August would hardly bear thinking about.
When he was at school, Emanuele would let off steam on his guitar, letting himself be carried away by tube distortions and the obsessive rhythms of his hardcore-punk band, rather than by the 1960s rock that his mother still loves to sing. Never would he have dreamt of venturing onto the arduous path traced by his parents, but at a certain point the music changed, and Arturo’s sudden illness put the young Emanuele on that very track. These were the years when it was decided to produce the Rosso di Valtellina and it was here that he showed his whole family that precise, rational management of the company was the only way to obtain quality wines in the Valtellina, making them famous all over the world.
The borderline is what differentiates what is inside from what is outside. Alessandro Bordoni is without doubt someone on the inside. Someone who did what he had to do and served in the Alpine troops in Dobbiaco. A skier and marble worker, like all those who wished to wed one of the young ladies of the Valmalenco. He has been with us since the 2004 vintage, Arturo’s last.
Emanuele has instinct: seeing how enthralled Alessandro was with the art of winemaking, he soon decided to put him in charge of the team in the vineyard. And just as we did with him, every year we involve other young people, keeping alive that priceless tradition of work that makes the people of the Valtellina what they are.
In the past, there was a lot of trade with the Germans and wine went over the Bernina Pass and down into the very heart of a Europe that was still in the making.
Kathrin comes from those lands, and she grew up more on beer than on Nebbiolo from the Alps. Even so, one day she found the courage to knock on the door of an underground cellar in the Via del Buon Consiglio 4 in Sondrio, standing there with her sweet smile and her funny accent, and armed with a truck and forklift driver’s licence.
They’ve always been able to build vehicles in Germany, and they drive them well. Considering the passion for engines at ARPEPE, Kathrin does not appear to have arrived there by chance, and she is able to help out with a language that no one else in the company can really get their tongue around.
One of the strangest things that has ever happened to me was in 2005. I opened the door of a cellar, which appeared to bear the words: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”.
It wasn’t the ARPEPE cellar – I’m sure of that, because ARPEPE feeds on hope and inspires it in others through the work of men and women who find comfort in a healthy, nutritious glass of Rosso di Valtellina wine.
My name is Mirco Lamperti and I’m the son of another Arturo – another one who’s as stubborn as a mule, and not one for niceties, but an Arturo whose ancestral sensitivity is ultimately like that of Nebbiolo from the Alps, which can only improve with age.