Crate escape: a refreshingly different winery salutes wit and whimsy in Italy’s Piedmont
Sandra Vezza is one of Italian commerce’s more colourful chieftains. Born and raised in the hills of the Langhe in the Piedmont region, for many years Vezza has managed the family business of food gelatins and pharmaceuticals founded by her husband in 1968. In 2011, the Vezzas bought Gufram, the Italian design brand known for pushing absurdist humour into bourgeois interiors (it is now managed by Sandra’s son, Charley).
Vezza’s latest project, L’Astemia Pentita, sees her make a sharp but not entirely unexpected pivot into viticulture. In many ways, this is a return to her roots. As a child she spent long days with her grandparents among the vineyards of the Langhe. ‘I have always been in love with my Langhe,’ she says. ‘It has always been a passion of mine, walking through the vineyards alone with my thoughts for hours on end, taking in the spectacular landscape that changes colour with every month of the year. Then one day while I was out walking, I met an elderly couple who had been wanting to sell their land for some time.’ They took to Vezza immediately, and struck a deal in 2009.
After a day’s deliberation, Vezza decided that the name of her new winery would tell the story of an unusual lifestyle change. L’Astemia Pentita means ‘The Repentant Teetotaler’, as until her move into wine growing, Vezza had never touched alcohol.
Almost a decade later, L’Astemia Pentita is ready to release its first vintage and on a hilltop outside the village of Barolo sit what appear to be two gigantic cases of wine, one piled on top of the other. Designed by architect Gianni Arnaudo, these stacked architectural volumes are the visible part of the L’Astemia Pentita winery, while the 4,000 sq m production space, including a cellar and storage areas, are buried within the hill.
The above-ground volumes host the wine shop and the tasting room, which offer comfortable spots to relax and take in the view. Vezza designed the interiors, as well as those of the basement spaces. Furniture is a mix of midcentury classics and new pieces: Gio Ponti’s ‘Leggera’ chairs for Cassina sit alongside Lucidi Pevere’s ‘Chignon’ armchairs for Gebrüder Thonet Vienna, interspersed with Drocco/Mello’s ‘Cactus’ for Gufram.
The wine bottles themselves are more akin to tabletop sculptures – one shaped like a man and the other like a woman – and displayed in large bottle-shaped cabinets. Vezza covered the floors of the wine shop and tasting room in raffia, just like the inside of an actual case of wine (although in this case the material is sealed in transparent resin), so that everything recalls the materials used in the winemaking process. The ceilings are decorated with two large murals depicting wine being poured, while the staircase is lined with books, documents and prototypes that chronicle the history of L’Astemia Pentita.
In collaboration with winemaker Donato Lonati, L’Astemia Pentita is ready to bring the Vezza irreverence to the oenological world. ‘I’m ironic, I love making fun of myself and I’m always on the go,’ declares Vezza, who fittingly chose the motto ‘Dynamic even when still’ for the winery. §
As originally featured in the September 2018 issue of Wallpaper* (W*234)
For more information, visit the L’Astemia Pentita website
Via Crosia 40
In memoriam: Paolo Portoghesi (1931 - 2023)
Postmodernist Italian architect Paolo Portoghesi has died; writer David Plaisant celebrates his life and legacy, recalling his visit to Calcata for a feature in the Wallpaper* April 2021 issue
By David Plaisant • Published
Cindy Sherman’s freaky new portrait collages dissect the divided self
We preview Cindy Sherman’s new portraits, on view at Hauser & Wirth Zurich during Zurich Art Weekend – which will see digitally manipulated collages explore the many facets of society
By Harriet Lloyd-Smith • Published
Sotheby's to buy the Breuer Building in New York
The Breuer Building in New York is to be acquired by famed auction house Sotheby's, it's been announced
By Ellie Stathaki • Published
Cin cin: discover the story behind Campari, Milan’s signature aperitivo
Where better to indulge in the delights of the Italian golden hour than Milan, the home of Campari? We trace the origins of the city’s signature aperitivo
By David Taylor • Last updated
Milan’s Triennale Design Museum spills the beans on the art of food (and food of art)
By JJ Martin • Last updated
Château Galoupet is teaching the world how to drink more responsibly
From reviving an endangered Provençal ecosystem to revisiting wine packaging, Château Galoupet aims to transform winemaking from terroir to bottle
By Mary Cleary • Last updated
London’s most refreshing summer cocktail destinations
Cool down in the sweltering city with a visit to London’s summer cocktail destinations
By Mary Cleary • Last updated
Buccellati sets the table for conviviality at Milan Design Week 2022
Designers Dimorestudio, Ashley Hicks, Chahan Minassian and Patricia Urquiola create spectacular dinner table designs for Buccellati’s Milan Design Week exhibition, ’Il Galateo – a journey into conviviality’
By Mary Cleary • Last updated
Learn how to curate a simple cheese board with perfect port pairings
The experts at artisan cheesemonger Paxton & Whitfield share tips for curating a simple but sophisticated cheese board, with port and cheese pairings for every taste
By Melina Keays • Last updated
IWA sake brewery by Kengo Kuma is Best Roofscape: Wallpaper* Design Awards 2022
IWA sake brewery in Japan, by Kengo Kuma & Associates, scoops Best Roofscape at the Wallpaper* Design Awards 2022
By Tony Chambers • Last updated
The Chuan Malt Whisky Distillery by Neri & Hu offers a twist on Chinese tradition
Neri & Hu designs headquarters for The Chuan Malt Whisky Distillery in China's Sichuan province
By Yoko Choy • Last updated