La Stoppa

Emilia-Romagna, Italy

“I want to be a custodian to the land and preserving the environment rather than imposing myself on nature was a spontaneous choice. From here the decision to farm organically was born; for a type of agriculture that contains the value of respect for the living.” - Elena Pantaleoni
La Stoppa is a 58 hectare property located on the slopes of the Trebbiola valley, in the Emilia-Romagna region, in Northern Italy. There are 30 h planted to vines, and the remaining 28 are left to nature. The whole cultivation process is done by hand, and managed according to organic methods, with a minimalist and careful approach.  The Estate was founded in the late 19th century. In 1973 La Stoppa was bought by the Pantaleoni family, and from 1991, Elena Pantaleoni leads the company. Elena, flanked by Giulio Armani, focused the work in the vineyards on organic agriculture, drastically changing the winemaking approach since her arrival. 
The naturally low yields, due to the average age of the vines and the poor soil, and the intrinsic quality of the grapes make it possible to obtain very characterised wines, born in the vineyard and transformed in the cellar through a minimalist approach. The care of the vineyard is carried out by letting the plant grow autonomously, without fertilisation or weed killers, only sulphur and copper treatments. The cultivation process is all done by hand to ensure that greater attention is given to the quality of the grape selection. Steel and cement tanks are used for the vinification of the de-stemmed fresh grapes. For the Riserva, after fermentation the wines are left for long ageing in wooden barrels and tanks, followed by a period of bottle-ageing. All of the fermentations are spontaneous with indigenous yeasts, no sulfites and at ambience temperature.


Organic, Biodynamic and Natural wine. What’s the difference?

To understand this concept and its various ramifications, it is necessary to keep something clear in mind: before the 20th century and the spreading of affordable synthetic fertilisers, all farming was organic. When the shift to the use of synthetics and pesticides happened, it became necessary to diversify traditional organic farming from the new modern farming. 


Simply put, organic farming forbids the use of synthetic fertilisers, synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or genetically modified organisms. The basic requirements are generally specific and engage the farmers not to use any chemical fertilisers and other synthetic products in the vineyard. It does not prevent the vintner from using the conventional winemaking process after harvesting. 


Let’s take organic farming one step further: Biodynamic. The creator of this agricultural system is the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, who developed the principles of biodynamics in a series of lectures given in 1924 in Germany. Here lies the foundation of true organic wines, with a strict limit in the use of additives, stringent requirements and at the end obtaining a biodynamic certification.


The previous definitions are usually, and rightfully, associated with it, because most natural wine is also organic and/or biodynamic. But not vice versa!

Natural wine is wine in its purest form, simply described as nothing added, nothing taken away, just grapes fermented. No manipulation whatsoever, minimal intervention both in the vineyards and in the winery. Healthy grapes, natural yeast and natural fermentation, with no filtration nor fining. Sounds easy, right? However, making natural wine is unforgiving and it requires a bigger amount of work than conventional wine. To this day, natural wine has no certification yet.