Cover Salvatore Ferragamo, CEO of Il Borro

The CEO of Il Borro Wines believes it's the best way to produce quality wines sustainably

As fashionable as some of the world’s best wines can be, the key to sustainable success for any winery lies in its ability to achieve and maintain a high standard. It’s also an ethos the grandson of a fashion icon, Salvatore Ferragamo, knows all too well.

Tradition has led to him adopting his grandfather’s first name, but after strong consideration, and having completed his undergraduate studies in New York, Ferragamo chose not to join the family’s feted fashion brand. Instead, he decided to pursue his passion for fine wine, and is now chief executive officer of Il Borro, the estate and winery his father, Ferruccio, purchased in 1993 and which he and his sister, Vittoria, manage; although she mainly oversees the organic vegetable garden and special projects.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to make the right investments and to have a lot of passion for this property, so we can do things without taking short-cuts,” Ferragamo tells T.Dining during a recent lunch event to mark the reintroduction of its wines to the Singapore market, which is now distributed by Enoteca. “And you will see it in the wines.”

Il Boro, he explains, is a winery that “believes in terroir”, which translates to planting the right vines—vines that perform best—in the different types of soils found on the property, which stretches across 1,300 acres from the mountains to the valley. It’s located on an estate that enjoys unique soil and climate conditions that result in high quality wines, despite being located about a 45-minute drive from Florence.

“You have the rocky soil that is more suited for growing sangiovese, the pebbly soil for the syrah, the sandy soil for the cabernet, and as you come further down into the valley, you have more a compact clay soil that is ideal for growing merlot.”

Forward Thinking

It was also Ferragamo who convinced his initially sceptical father to replant the vines in 1995 and start making wines. Following the success of the winery’s first vintage and flagship wine, the Il Borro IGT Toscana, in 1999, the property and its businesses—from its olive and vegetable farms, and the winery, to its renovated medieval village, complete with refined suites and luxury villas that are part of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux Association—have been certified organic since 2015.

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Above Salvatore Ferragamo, CEO of Il Borro is a fan of wines with personality, particularly international varietals that grow well on the estate's uniquely diverse soil types.

Ferragamo believes this is the future of winemaking and works closely with 20 other producers (winegrowers) in the region to establish the quality of wine from the region. Collectively, they are reactivating an old designation (Denomination of Controlled Origin or DOC) for wines from the area and are currently waiting for the Italian government to make it official. “For now, though, the 20 producers have an internal regulation to only produce wines organically,” he confirms.

Just like the farmers on the estate, the winery refer to the moon calendar when deciding when to harvest and bottle. And, more recently, they have begun using a unique strain of natural yeast to make their wines, starting with the 2018 vintage, with the similar aim of making uniquely exceptional wines and wines with a unique personality.

“I think it’s important to go organic, because today, we need to be careful about what we eat and drink,” shares Ferragamo, who is also a trained sommelier, pointing out how it is easy to understand the significance of the simple fact that the vines absorbs what is found in the soil and that is transferred in varying amounts to the fruit and into the wine.


I think it’s important to go organic, because today, we need to be careful about what we eat and drink
Salvatore Ferragamo

“We also believe in renewable energy,” Ferragamo continues. “We have two megawatts of solar energy that fuel the property,” he expounds, pointing out that the company only uses about a third of the energy produce. “The remainder is sold back to the grid; so, we also qualify as a negative-carbon footprint property.”

Moving forward, it’s seems only natural for the winery to adopt a bio-dynamic approach to making wine. They are currently working with about two hectares of vineyards that are producing wines they hope to release in a couple of years.

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