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Join us for a Free Seminar highlighting three wineries from the diverse region of Alto Piemonte, led by resident expert, Cristiano Garella. 

Over the past decade, the region of Alto Piemonte in the northeastern corner of Piedmont, Italy, emerged from obscurity and started garnering international attention, and while no one can single-handedly resuscitate an entire winegrowing region, 34-year-old Cristiano Garella has played a significant role in this area’s reawakening.

“I want to realize the huge potential of the Alto Piemonte area by making wines that express its native grapes and complex mosaic of diverse terroirs,” says Garella, “and then bring them to the attention of as many people as possible—in Italy and around the world.” It’s an ambitious goal, but Garella has already made considerable headway and has had a tremendous impact on Alto Piemonte’s profile, galvanizing attention both at home and abroad. But, he says, “there is still so much to do.”

Garella was born in the tiny hamlet of Garella—a common local surname—in the small village of Castelletto Cervo near Biella. Though his family was not in the wine business (his mother was a secretary and his father a gymnastics teacher), Garella became intrigued by wine at an early age. He had his first sip at 6, and by the time he was 9, he already enjoyed scouring wine ads and articles in the newspaper. At 11, he bought a wine guide by Luigi Veronelli, and at 12, made his first pilgrimage to the Langhe with his older brother. “It was 1996,” he says, “and it was an exciting time. We visited all the greats—Angelo Gaja, Bartolo Mascarello, Giacomo Conterno—and they were all extraordinarily generous. I think they were amused to see two young kids who were really interested in what they were doing.”

Garella earned an AIS (Association of Italian Sommeliers) certificate in 2003. That same year, at 19, he enrolled in the Enology School of Alba, which he attended until 2006, when he received a remarkable offer from the Sella family to oversee the Tenute Sella winery in Lessona, after a member of the family read an article in a local newspaper about Garella’s passion for winemaking. “It was a great opportunity,” he says. “I learned a lot and I’m still friends with many of the people there. But it wasn’t enough. I realized I couldn’t work with just one winery—I needed to do more.” After five years, Garella began consulting; two years after that, he decided to go off on his own.

Today Garella is a partner in two wineries, Colombera & Garella in Masserano and Le Pianelle in Brusnengo, and an adviser to about 20 others. “It’s hard to keep count of them all,” he says, “because my role is always different and the relationships are very organic. Sometimes people just want me to come taste their wines and give my opinion. Sometimes this develops into a working relationship, sometimes not.” He typically drives 100,000 kilometers a year and gets more than 100 calls a day during harvest season.

Being involved with so many different wineries has led to him being a kind of spokesperson for the entire region.

Wine Cristiano will be pouring and discussing:


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