Located in the village of Lozzo Atestino (Padova) in the Veneto region, Nevio Scala is the 3rd generation member of the family estate. He was born in this area and takes great pride carrying on the local traditions and respecting the environment. The estate is organic certified since 2019. This is the short version of the story, but the Scalas have been working in agriculture for more than a century.
Let’s go back to 1929, the year of one of the greatest economic global crises, when Nevio’s grandfather Angelo lost his land properties and decided to leave Minerbe (in the province of Verona) with only 12 oxen left. He finds a good job working for the Albrizzi earls estates located in the Euganean Hills, just south of Padova. With the help of his wife Giuseppina and his son Francesco, and after a lot of hard work, he manages to redeem some land, thus becoming a small landowner.
Francesco had a soft spot for wine and planted the vineyards, which are then handed over to his uncle who preferred to invest more in the cultivation of corn and wheat.
Francesco’s son Nevio grew up in the farm but enjoyed playing professional football (in USA known as soccer). Born in 1947, he was a talented football player and enjoyed a successful career as a midfielder for several Italian top-flight teams like Roma, Milan, Fiorentina, Vicenza and Inter — and subsequently played for lower-ranked clubs in the final years of his career. As a player, with A.C. Milan, he won several titles, including the Italian Serie A and the European Champions League.
After his retirement in 1981, he decided to start a new career as a trainer. He did an amazing job developing a new football style based on organization and creativity. As a coach, he led the Calabrian third division club Reggina to Serie B in 1988, and then moved to Serie B club Parma. He held that position for six years, leading the Emilian club to its first promotion to the Italian top flight in 1990, and subsequently turned the team into one of the major clubs in the Italian Serie A winning several domestic and European titles.
After Parma, Nevio has coached in Germany winning in 1997 with his Borussia Dortmund the Intercontinental cup vs the Brazilian team Cruzeiro, and lead the Ukrainian team Shachtar Donetsk to their first national title in 2002.
Nevio coached amazing players international stars like Buffon, Cannavaro, Fernando Couto, Zola, Taffarel, Asprilla, Pippo Inzaghi, Stoichkov, Reuter, Paulo Sousa, Möller, etc.
Married to his beloved German wife Janny, the couple has two sons Claudio (married to Francesca) and Sacha (married to Elisa). After his retirement as a coach, he decided to go back to agriculture and wine and the estate is currently managed by his son Claudio and his daughter in law Elisa (the 4th generation). The other son Sacha is an architect and he designed the brand new cellar in 2020 with the renovation of an old barnyard.
The farm is located at the foot of the Euganean Hills, in the Italian province of Padova. The Scalas adopt organic agricultural practices that do not involve the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilization products and that avoids excessive exploitation of natural resources, within a model of sustainable development – economically, biologically, but also socially as part of corporate responsibility.
As Claudio points out: “We understand our farm as a complex biological organism: our farm includes crops like wheat, barley, rapeseed, lucerne (alfalfa sprouts), hemp, sunflowers and beans. Part of the territory is dedicated to reforestation, in an area in which woods have been forced to give way to crops of industrial farming. The wet area contributes to the development of a complex “living” organism, with increased presence of flora and fauna that enriches our eco-system”.
Furthermore, the family planted in 1997 olive trees on the Monte Lozzo (with cultivars like Rasara, Marzemina, Leccino, Frantoio e Moraiolo), while the wine project started in 2014 by replanting all the vineyards.
The vineyards are currently set up with 9,5 hectares under cultivation and the main grape is Garganega, followed by Malvasia Istriana, Moscato (both White and Yellow Moscato), Merlot, Cabernet Franc and 0.5 hectares of recovered local red vines planted in 2018: Turchetta, Recantina, Pataresca, Corbinona (red grapes).
Merlot and Cabernet Franc presence in Veneto is an historical heritage brought by the French – Austrian war and the invasion of Napoleon’s troops in 1797. French Bordeaux varieties are at home in very few corners in Italy and for sure Colli Euganei district south of Padova is one of them.
The current yearly total production is 42.000 bottles considering the six wines elaborated and the first bottled wines come from the 2016 harvest when the estate was producing only three wines.
The soil is alluvial and marked by volcanic elements providing freshness and minerality to the wines. In order to promote biodiversity in the vineyards the Scalas seed green manure between the rows. Aside of the vineyards hazel trees, elders, blackthorns, sorb, wild roses and mayflowers have been planted, providing safety, food and nesting areas for useful fauna.
The Scala estate is a proud member of the Vinnatur association which gathers 170 natural growers from 9 different European countries. The protocol to be followed is pretty strict and controls are tight with wines’ lab analyses constantly done by the board.
While Verona and the whole Valpolicella district is famous for its red wines (do you want a glass of Amarone?), going eastward in the provinces of Vicenza and then Padova, Garganega takes the spotlight.
This is an important Italian white that’s loved for its lean, dry style that gains rich tangerine and toasted almond notes as it ages. Garganega is the main grape of Soave and many Americans are more familiar with the appellations itself rather than the grape.
Therefore, If you haven’t heard of Garganega, fear not! It’s also the main grape of the lesser-known Gambellera appellation, and makes up over 70% of white wines throughout the Veneto in Northern Italy. Bordering with Veneto, Mantova’s province in Lombardia, near the Garda Lake, presents several hectares planted with this grape variety.
Although located on the opposite end of Italy, Sicily is also home to a thriving Garganega clone. There, it’s known as Grecanico Dorato and was only linked to Garganega through modern DNA testing. However, like so many Italian grapes, it tastes different because the local soil dramatically affects the flavor’s profile.
The Garganega berry is white, medium spheroid, golden yellow with thick and juicy pulp. The bunch is long, cylindrical, with wings, relatively sparse, with the spine that often splits at the tip. The leaf is medium, pentagonal, five lobed.
The variety presents an incredible versatility which is rarely offered by many other white varieties. Let’s say that Garganega in Italy is exactly what Chenin Blanc represents for France. Beside dry white wine, Garganega is also used to produce both spumante (sparkling), ancestral (refermented in the bottle) and recioto (sweeter) style wines. Recioto di Soave, made by appassimento method (air drying), is known to have honeyed apricot and lush papaya and mango notes and makes an absolutely delicious option for dessert.
Steep Hill imports 6 wines and all of them are made with spontaneous fermentation (indigenous yeast only and no external selected yeast strains), all are unfined and unfiltered, presenting minimal cellar manipulation. Some of them are bottled with no added sulfites.
Overall, the wines are very stable and are shipped to US only when ready and after the correct bottle aging. Wines coming from 2019 vintage onwards present the official organic certification, granted by Icea.
Let’s start from the three different Garganega wines: Gargante sui lieviti (on the lees), refermented in the bottle thanks to the must of air dried Garganega gapes and not disgorged, with a yearly average production of 800 cs. Like all the other white wines it is fermented in concrete vats and like all the Italian natural “ancestral” sparkling it is bottled during the following spring.
Diletto is the entry level every day Garganega, while Contame is a skin contact interpretation of the variety aged 18 months in concrete tanks plus 2 more years in the bottle before being released. We currently offer to the market the 2017 vintage.
The Scalas have planted the Istrian Malvasia clone and Monemvasia is the brand name with an average yearly production of 500 cases. Once again viticulture an history interwine their paths and Venetians appreciated wines coming from Monemvasia, a Greek port that gave the name to the whole Malvasia grape family, since 13th century. The Istrian clone is widely planted mainly in Friuli, with smaller presence to the west as far as Garda Lake.
Solluchero is a field blend of 60% Moscato Giallo, 40% Moscato Bianco with an average yearly production of 500 cases.
Last but not least, Novecentonovantanove is a red wine produced from a coupage of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot. The estate produces also the Riserva version, but this wine is not imported by Steep Hill.
The incredible terroir’s diversity and the presence of wet lands in the proximity can favor the development of excellent sweet wines and the Scalas are planning to produce two more wines with Garganega grape: Passito (air dried) and Muffato (wine affected by Noble rot aka Botrytis Cinerea).
In a nutshell