Obviously Barolo wine tours are what a lot of people come to the Piedmont region to experience. But, we hope they also make their way to the Monferrato – yes, a little further away, but well worth the time in transit. And, we thought we’d introduce you to some of our favorite Piedmont wine region guides, starting with Piedmont native, Sandro Minella.
For this next partner profile, our Monvigliero Vineyard Villas property manager Katariina sat down with Barolo wine tour guide Sandro Minella.
Specialty programs and experiences with wine and area culinary delights
A Piedmont native, Sandro is from Turin, but lived in NYC for many years, perfecting his English and getting to know wine and food on an international level. Upon his return to the area, he started offering Barolo wine tours that he describes as a professional approach mixed with the passion of an insider.
Explore the Piedmont Wine Region with Sandro Minella
KATARIINA: Ciao Sandro! Thank you kindly for making the time for us today. I know it has been a different tour season this year in Langhe with the pandemic, so we really appreciate you working us in.
SANDRO: Assolutamente, Katariina. I always love working with Villas’ guests and it has been great to see you all still getting visitors to the property. What can I tell you about myself and my work?
KATARIINA: Great, let’s get right to it. First, since we have a lot of Barolo wine tour requests, let’s start with your background in wine? How did you end up in this delicious business?
SANDRO: Well, on the technical side:
- I have a Level 3 Sommelier Diploma from F.I.S.A.R (Italian Federation of Sommeliers),
- I serve as a Certified Taster with O.N.A.V. (Italian Wine Tasters Organization),
- I’m a member of Narratori del Vino (Wine Tellers Association),
- I am a teacher / coordinator of the Barolo & Barbaresco Academy – Langhe Wine School,
- I teach Wine Sales Manager classes at Alba Hotel School,
- I conduct tastings and seminars locally and globally for Consorzio I Vini del Piemonte, Consorzio Alta Langa, and Consorzio di Tutela Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe e Dogliani events.
But, I think the most important parts of my expertise comes from years of hands-on experience in wineries, wine shops, and restaurants in the Piedmont region and USA, driven by my passion for wine and food. It started in my childhood when I helped my nonno work his little vineyard and bottle his homemade wine. The joyful wine smells of his cellar, the chants and playful atmosphere of harvest, all the family feasts…they are etched in my memory.
KATARIINA: How do you plan your tours with our clients?
SANDRO: The goal of my Barolo wine tours is to have clients come here as guests and leave as friends, bringing home not only technical knowledge and deeper appreciation of our wines, but a genuine and unforgettable life experience of our land and its people.
My Piedmont wine region tours are tailored on each client, so every tour is different because each person comes with a different background and different expectations. But I always try to make them feel like a part of our territory, rather than a tourist. We visit famous wineries as well as hidden gems with the aim of immersing them in the real life of our villages and farms.
KATARIINA: What are the most important things to know and understand about a wine tasting and a winery visit and why?
SANDRO: The human factor. The hard work, the passion, the lifelong commitment, and the constant search for quality in every detail, that can be found in every winery in the Langhe, from the world famous to the small up-and-coming ones. Because in our territory wine has always been a matter of dignity, sense of belonging and pride, well before being a business.
KATARIINA: Why should wine lovers visit the Piedmont region? What makes the Piedmont wine region so enchanting and particular?
SANDRO: Well, that’s easy! World class wines, and the beauty of diversity: an incredible diversity of landscapes, climates, soils, grape varieties, wine styles and people that can be found in a relatively small region. And, the human touch that welcomes them at every winery, restaurant, shop or farm they visit.
KATARIINA: The Piedmont region has so many great producers and wines, but are there places with an exceptional impact for you? Or, a particular vintage?
SANDRO: I love great Barolo and Barbaresco, but Barbera (Barbera d’Alba or Barbera d’Asti) are very special to me. They are humble and rich wines, easy drinking but deep, able to age well while remaining young and fresh. For me, they are a surprise in every bottle. And always gives me emotions.
KATARIINA: You have traveled the world a lot promoting Piedmont as a wine and culinary region, what regions have made a profound impact on you – where would you like to return, and why?
SANDRO: Among many countries and regions, New York City has had a very strong impact on my life, on both professional and personal levels. I love visiting Scandinavian countries, where I feel that the love for Piemonte and its wines are ubiquitous and genuine.
KATARIINA: What wonderful information. Thank you, Sandro. Is there anything else you’d like us to note about your Barolo wine tours and Piedmont region services?
SANDRO: I just love connecting people through great wines, genuine food, contact with nature and local cultures. These are my passions and I’d like to share them. As noted, I don’t do pre-set standard Barolo wine tours, but a personal guide service, tailored to each clients wishes so they experience a direct contact with top food and wine producers and discover hidden gems.
I invite everyone to come taste your way through the Langhe with me, off the beaten tracks.