Above: Pievalta founder and winemaker Alessandro Fenino (left) and his wife Silvia Loschi.
Pievalta winemaker Alessandro Fenino’s road to a life in wine is as unlikely as it is spectacular.
He was born in a working-class neighborhood in the outskirts of Milan, where enology and the world of wine were as foreign as life on the farm. His parents had escaped the hardships of country life in post-war Italy and had moved to the big city where they found work during Italy’s economic boom of the 1960s. His father was an electrician and his mother was shop clerk in a clothing store.
But in 1995, Alessandro took a “leap into the unknown,” as he puts it, when he decided to enroll in the department of Enology and Viticulture at the State University in Milan. In 1997, he had the good fortune to land an internship at one of Italy’s leading organic wineries, the revered La Stoppa estate in Piacenza.
“It was there,” he remembers, “that I decided that I wanted to make fine wine for a living.”
Today, Alessandro is the chief agronomist and winemaker at Castelli di Jesi’s first and only Demeter-certified biodynamic winery, an initiative and accomplishment that he personally envisioned and implemented.
After completing a second internship at Barone Pizzini (where he first began working in sparkling wine), his degree in enology and viticulture, and his (then mandatory) military service, he returned to Barone Pizzini where he began working full-time in the fall of 2001.
In 2002, he and Barone Pizzini general manager Silvano Brescianini founded the Pievalta winery in Castelli di Jesi.
In 2003, the team began converting the estate to organic farming. Then in 2005, after having completed various studies in biodynamic agriculture and attending numerous fairs and conferences, Alessandro spearheaded the estate’s biodynamic conversion.
In 2008, it became the first winery in Castelli di Jesi to obtain Demeter certification.
Silvano’s grandfather was a local farmer and winemaker and he produced wine in Erbusco long before Franciacorta was recognized as one of the world’s leading appellations for classic method sparkling wines.
After completing the prestigious FISAR sommelier program (administered by the Italian Federation of Sommeliers, Hoteliers, and Restaurateurs) in 1982, Silvano completed his studies in hotel and restaurant management at the Hotelier School in Iseo the following year.
He had already worked in the restaurant industry for many years when he landed his first job at a Michelin-starred restaurant, Ezio Santin’s Antica Osteria del Ponte in Cassinetta di Lugagnano (province of Milan), one of only four restaurants in Italy to hold a Michelin star at that time. It was there that Silvano first discovered “the world of great wine.”