Have you met Francesca Paladin? Proprietor for the expansive Casa Paladin group, Francesca manages operations of Bosco del Merlo, Castelvecchi, and Castello Bonomi— all while coordinating her family’s flagship winery, Paladin Vigne e Vini (flanked by her cousins and brothers). She helms the third generation of winemakers and enologists to continue her family’s legacy from their estate in the Veneto. In anticipation of her forthcoming trip to California for Gambero Rosso, we caught up with Francesca in a brief interview:
Q: Did you always know that you would continue in your family’s wine business? When and how did joining the family business happen?
A: I wasn’t sure my future was in the family business, but I always loved the food & wine sector. I always found it so interesting because it tells the story of different territories, different cultures and different people… it’s fascinating. I grew up in the winery, harvesting with my family as a child and doing lots of different small tasks. After university I decided to work here definitively.
Q: How did Paladin’s relationships with Bonomi, Bosco del Merlo and Castelvecchi begin?
A: Paladin winery was founded by my grandfather. In 1977, my parents and uncle founded Bosco del Merlo— that was one of the first organic wineries in the area. In 2004 they fell in love with Chianti Classico and Castelvecchi became a part of the Casa Paladin group. We last acquired Castello Bonomi in 2008, in the Franciacorta area.
Q: What are some of the advantages of being the proprietor for multiple brands?
A: The advantages are getting to know so many different areas, terroirs, and people. Moreover, you can replicate the best practices of an area also in the others as you get to understand and develop the best techniques for each terroir.
Q: Speaking to that strategy, can you explain a little bit about Casa Paladin’s sustainability plan, titled ‘4V’?
A: We created the ‘4V’ project as a philosophy of sustainability, a path that includes innovations brought into the overall “vineyard-cellar” system. The pillars of the 4V project are the identities that create the winery and its ecosystem: Vine (VITE), Green (VERDE), Wine (VINO) and Life (VITA).
For each of these aspects, there is a philosophy and sustainability practices common to all the wineries of Casa Paladin Group. Each winery also has its particularities dictated by the terroir, by the climate, the soil and human factors.
Paladin’s reach doesn’t just extend geographically, they also cover a wide variety of wine styles that speak to their heritage. At Paladin Vigne e Vini they even offer a wine in every color of the sparkling rainbow— white, rosé and red. Their ‘Fiore’ sparkling red made from the Raboso grape is one of their most unique offerings: savory and dry with a deeply concentrated hue, robust notes of field violets and cherries meet an intensely structured bubble.
Q: We don’t see a ton of Raboso wines in the USA, let alone a sparkling one. Can you tell us a little bit about what this variety means to your family? Is Raboso production on the rise?
A: The Raboso is one of the oldest wines produced in the Paladin family, it’s a native variety and an important and historical variety for the area. During the Serenissima Republic it was one of the wines more commonly used for trade from the ships that sale from Venice, because its acidity allowed the wine to resist long journeys at sea without altering its characteristics.
Q: For folks unfamiliar with the variety, what is Raboso like? Is it usually made into a sparkling wine?
A: Raboso can be similar to an old style of Lambrusco. Usually it’s a still wine, we decided to produce it as a sparkling to have a wine easy to drink, perfect also for aperitivo!
“Agricanto” derives from two words, “Agri” and “Canto”. The former translates to “belonging to the field, to the land” and the latter evokes gratitude towards that same land and the gifts it bears. This liqueur is an amalgam of wine, grappa and spice extracts. Velvety in texture, it has flavors and aromas of maraschino, black cherry, dark chocolate, almond, clove, and cinnamon. And it all began with a little bit of that Raboso wine…
Q: We’re very fond of your Italian liqueur, ‘Agricanto‘. Whose idea was it to start producing this offering?
A: Agricanto was an idea born from my grandfather, it comes from “countryside barmans” that (during the long hours spent in the countryside) tried to mix the Raboso wine with other elements coming from the nature they found, like cherry, grappa, spices…
Q: Without giving away too many house secrets, can you talk about the almond juice and the cherry juice that go into Agricanto? Are they a part of Paladin’s agriculture as well?
A: Over the years the recipe of Agricanto has evolved to become more and more balanced. Today the ingredients we produce in the wineries are the Raboso and the marcs used to make the grappa. We have selected other suppliers for the cherry and almond juice, today we have a long relationship with them, and we work side by side to always have the best quality.
Q: Do you get to enjoy any hobbies unrelated to wine?
A: Yes, I love traveling, hiking, cooking and obviously having good food and wine with the people I love.
Q: Last, what are you looking forward to most about attending Gambero Rosso in California?
A: I’m really excited to be able to travel again and to speak about wine. I’m happy to share my family history and the values of Casa Paladin wines and, most importantly, to get to know the Casa Paladin American family.
Are you in LA on the 16th or San Francisco on the 18th? Be sure to stop by Gambero Rosso to try Casa Paladin’s wines! Reach out to your wine rep for availability and details.
Please note: In partnership with Serendipity, Castelvecchi and Paladin Vigne e Vini are available in both Texas and California markets, while Castello Bonomi and Bosco del Merlo is available in the Texas market.