Live your authentic Wine Experience, meet Podere le Ripi!

Podere Le Ripi grapevines

Why? Our Belief

Because harmony has always been my dream.

“Podere le Ripi started as a dream, and a very old one too: a dream to create something.

This dream is also an aesthetic one: creating something extremely beautiful.
When I was 18 years old my dream was supposed to be an island, and Podere le Ripi is not an island, but it is some sort of a peninsula that dives into the noisy Orcia river.

With time, this something beautiful became also healthy and sustainable, and later we realized that it could have been applied somewhere else, therefore becoming replicable and socially positive in its approach.

This dream wants to be an example, a model. This concept comes from the belief that every business should understand the importance of aesthetic, ethic, economic, ecological, and social impacts.

This is Francesco Illy’s sustainability model, that founded Podere le Ripi, way before it was established.

Why economical? Because only if it works financially, then it will last in the future and replicate itself.
Why ecological? Because only if it is able to function in the environment in which it strives, then it will be able to survive.
Why ethic? Because only if it’s ethical then it will be a sustainable model.
Why aesthetic? Because only when it works aesthetically it can create culture.
Why social? Because only if it works socially, it can build a team that creates and evolves this culture and spreads it inside and outside the company.

Those companies that can successfully imitate/invent and respect such sustainability model, that can also respect these “whys” – regardless of the business they’re in their whats and hows – are companies that will guarantee a peaceful survival to the human race.


Biodynamic Winery in Montalcino

Where everything has started

Biodynamic Winery in Montalcino

Podere Le Ripi: my home.
60 hectares of forest, vineyards, and olive trees occupied by a shepherd and his sheep until 1998. An uncontaminated soil, invigorated by spontaneous biodiversity, surrounded by multiple native environments. At that time, I wasn’t a winemaker, but a nature photographer, and I inevitably fell in love with this place.

A while ago, in 1984, Montalcino stole my heart. I am a nature photographer and these landscapes – as our poet Ungaretti put it – “flooded me with the light of the immense” and simply stole my soul: I needed to have a house here.

So, in 1987 I began searching for my Tuscan home without even dreaming about producing wine: I was a wine lover who thought he was too old to enter this world made of incredibly long waiting periods.

Every estate proposal was either too big, too expensive or not suitable… so it took ten years before my friend Carlo Vittori called me and said: “I found the place, hurry up here and take a look, before the housing prices in Montalcino explode!” And, recalling his words now…how right he was!

So, I made it to Tuscany driving from Switzerland (I used to live there) and after six hours drive, I met a shepherd who was casually taking his afternoon nap under a centenary oak tree. His sheep were bleating and ruminating around him and the big white Maremmano Shepherd dogs were running in a circle keeping the herd in place. Two of these dogs, mother and daughter, were so wild that they were eventually left behind, ending up staying with me: the shepherd couldn’t make them get onto his truck the day he moved. And when a few months later I asked him what I was meant to do with them, he candidly told me with his strong Sardinian accent to just shoot them, which I obviously never did.

I immediately understood that this was my place. The place of my life.

The beauty, the distance from what we would call “civilization”, the absolute absence of the horrible architectural slaughter of the last century that has destroyed so many Italian landscapes. That’s where we are: a land in the middle of the UNESCO World Heritage site Orcia Valley, with the perfumes that pervade all year long around these hills, the deep view to the east on Monticchiello and Montepulciano, the prehistoric volcano Monte Amiata to the south, the near amphitheatrical hills protecting Le Ripi to the west and north sides… all of this was spectacular…

The estate was so uncontaminated. Unpopulated for thousands of years with poor and dry soil that gave very poor crops, it reaches over 40°C in summer and freezes lakes during winter, with 400-year-old olive trees, forests of many different trees and shrubs, and flowers – flowers, flowers everywhere – all year round. Not to mention wild asparagus, Porcini mushrooms, blackberries, the white and black truffles that only my friend Francesco’s dog was able to unearth, the wonderful red “corbezzolo” (arbutus), as well as wildlife, with rabbits and deer, boars and porcupines, wolves and yews, badgers and foxes, eagles from the Amiata Mountain and herons, buzzards, hawks, and the storks passing by the Orcia river twice a year, or all kinds of ducks that come into my lakes.

This is my dream come true: Podere Le Ripi

Francesco Illy, winemaker in Montalcino

Francesco Illy

The dreamer

I love quality, pardon, excellence*:
I believe excellence gives emotions.
And emotions give joy.
But emotions also help our brain to remember,
and this produces culture.
And culture has always produced a better life.
Sometimes we forget it and we put something at risk:
our future,
which is based on the evolution of our culture.

*Definition of excellence:
From the Latin ex (out) and cellere (to move, to push): excellence defines the highest level of quality.

Winemakers in Montalcino in the vineyard

Our guardians

Our People

Soon this place went from being the fulfillment of one man’s dream to becoming a dream shared by many others.  Year after year the winery grew and so did its people. The ethical and social culture practiced here has spread through our actions. Today we all represent Podere le Ripi and we feel part of something that represents us in return. 24 young people that allowed themselves to be inspired and inspired back. We don’t have consultants, because if wine absorbs its surroundings like a sponge and men are the mediators between wine and nature, then only the people of this place will be able to transfer this energy into the wine.

We could have never imagined bringing to life a project such as this one, especially in the wine business.

Acting as an incubator for youngsters taking their first steps in this field, relying on their enthusiasm and their curiosity. Agriculture, especially when this articulated and rich, is first cooperation between people. Of course, having a nice vineyard or a nice tractor is important, but not as important as getting the right people together and giving them the chance to play at the same tune. This is where our model starts, with people among our first priorities.

We might sound strange, but we believe that wine is one of the few existing products with its own sensitivity, capable of expressing the love that people have put into play, which is why we’ve been investing a lot in our team. We are involved economically and emotionally: we are a team of friends.

Many of us have been working at Podere Le Ripi for years and are really proud of the wines they have cared for. Sebastian and Alessandro were the ones who started but, today, protecting this culture is a task for the whole team. “Be Crazy my Friend” is the motto we were told on the first day of work! After a few decades, we could not dream of better people to enjoy this journey with, but above all, we have shown that there is also an alternative ethical-social model for a successful business in agriculture to strive.

Excellence in food & wine: Who defines the highest levels of quality? Many producers are in the “pursuit of excellence” even if today “becoming the best” is getting harder. The outcome of such competition results in a variety of “interpretations of excellence” that allow us to enjoy the many faces of perfection.

*We accept the notion that our excellence is the product of winemaking practices that we conceive as the best possible. It means that we accept the limits that our sensibility has in defining those practices, and we go through experience and confrontation with any kind of criticism so that we can constantly increase such sensibility.

Meet our main trail blazers

Sebastian Nasello


Sebastian Nasello
Head Winemaker and CEO, he likes to think of himself as a “ragazzo di bottega” and enjoys life as a Scorpio. Also, he believes to have superpowers.

Alessandro Ricco


Alessandro “Baffino” Riccò
He’s our Agronomist, meaning that he basically takes care of the land and makes sure we get grapes to make wine. His nickname refers to his medieval-style beard. In typical Italian tradition, he still lives with his mom.

Giulia Barcucci


Giulia “the Samurai” Barcucci
She runs the hospitality team, she organizes lunches, dinners, tastings and everything in between. Do not say no to her, otherwise, heads will roll. Winner of the Podere le Ripi limbo championship.

Felicia Carrara


Felicia “Felix” Carrara
Straight from the Dolomites, Felicia came to teach us how to live on a budget. She deals with numbers, banks, accountants. She doesn’t believe in mistakes.

Martina Di Paola


Martina Di Paola
She takes care of clients’ complains, complains a lot herself. Started working at Podere le Ripi by mistake and doesn’t even like wine that much.

Matteo Melfi


Matteo Mitch Melfi
One of our historical team members, without him we would be lost. He is the real Bonsai vineyard expert. The ultimate yes man, no one has ever heard the word “no” from him.

Gabriele Grazi


Gabriele Grazi
(Gratzi, Gratzinger we have yet to understand his last name…). Our Sales Manager: 1.90 meters (6 foot 2”) fueled by over twenty coffees a day, Gabriele loves roasted pigeons and despises humanity.

Chiara Uliano


Chiara Uliano
Perpetually overly excited for ANYTHING, Chiara makes sure our guests leave with a smile on their faces. Warning: the pitch of her voice might cause serious ear injuries.

Simone Ignesti


Simone “Chavo” Ignesti
He’s our Cellar Master, he likes food, wine and long walks on the beach. We’ll gift a bottle of Brunello to whoever convinces him to cut his hair.

Matteo Ozzella


Matteo “Ozy” Ozzella
Our Storage Manager: holds the world record of hand-labeled bottles and loves junk food. Also, cusses like a sailor.

Hafedh and Ahmed

Hafedh and Ahmed

Brothers, they make sure our land is taken care of. They speak funny Italian but they make themselves understood (most of the times).They’re the smiliest people on earth.

Andrea Sacconi


Andrea “sacco” Sacconi
He’s our junior junior junior assistant winemaker, he utters an average of 1 word a week, but somehow he is the Podere Le Ripi’s winner of our taboos championships.

Sofia Quercioli


Sofia Quercioli
She’s a junior winemaker, and physically the strongest person of the team. Once, she lifted a barrel with her bare hands. With wine inside. Gets really competitive when playing Taboo.

Ludovica Stuart


Ludovica “Ludo” Stuart
She’s our junior admin officer. An actual direct descendant of the noble Scottish Stuart family, meaning that she’s Podere Le Ripi’s only Princess by blood, dresses like a man and competes in Enduro Championships. Has broken every bone of her body and suffers from a compulsive need to feed and rescue every animal she sees.


Paola Rocchi
Paola is our Chef, she makes sure our clients and the members of the team are fed, fat and happy. Doesn’t understand the words “thanks I’m full” and she will keep feeding us with as much wild boar and handmade pici as she can (there are worse ways to live, we know).

Federico Digangi


Federico “IL DIGA” Digangi

He who needs no introduction, the one and only Diga. His presence mesmerizes all human beings, his loquacious nature hypnotizes us all (how would we have hired him otherwise?). He takes care of our vines like no others, he brings joy to us all.

Giorgia Carlei



Giorgia is a winemaker with a huge passion for food, she would fry anything and anyone in at least 10 cm of oil, any less than that counts as diet food. 100% from Calabria, in her blood runs red hot chili pepper.


Matteo (who’s nickname should not be mentioned for Italian political reasons) had been working at Podere Le Ripi for a year before we noticed him. He used to be shy and kept for himself all the time. Well, we guess he’s now finally comfortable, as he fully came out of his cage: great dancer, storyteller, and latest Montalcino’s latin lover. He looks after the vineyards and tries to understand the secrets of wine like the rest of us

What we do for our People and our Planet

Let’s take a closer look at Podere le Ripi employees:
Young team – With an average age of 28 years, the Podere le Ripi team is a mixed group of people coming from different parts of Italy and very different backgrounds. This mix of energy, professionalism, experience, and knowledge allows a continuous stream of new ideas and projects aimed toward the growth of our biodynamic winery.


Training – Training sessions are often organized to reinforce a constant exchange of information between seniors and interns. We go through a wide range of topics going from wine to marketing. We want to connect minds to keep improving our soft skills. And not to forget, a great team cannot evolve as such without having crazy team buildings!

Wine Trips – Ready, set, go! Once a year, the team is ready to leave for wine regions around the world in order to expand knowledge and strengthen teamwork.

Wine Masterclasses – Podere le Ripi is providing now Wine Classes hosted by special guests and wine professionals from all over the world – a unique opportunity to learn about different wine regions and taste special wines (and not just Brunello !!)

…The green face of Podere le Ripi

Years go by and now more than ever our planet needs help. So here some small things where we hope we are making a difference

Biodynamic agriculture is for us the best tool to contain our impact on the earth while practicing agriculture, hoping to give back cultivable land to those who will inherit it.

Wine processes happen in a 100% ecological wine cellar, built to have zero impact on the environment;

We are committed to a better final recycling result, also avoiding food waste by feeding any leftovers to our farm animals;

Also trying to develop our farm as a closed-loop agricultural system capable of integrating different types of crops and animals;

We only purchase electricity from renewable sources;

From 2020 all wine shipments have been 100% plastic-free;
In 2010 Francesco began his brave tree-planting project in the Sarah Dessert.

You may have heard of it, and in case you haven’t… get ready for next summer! It all started with a party for a small group of friends and family … now the Summer Party and the summer event in Val d’Orcia.

On a magical July night, Podere le Ripi opens the doors of its cellar and shows its hidden side to many. We don’t want to tell you too much!


So, dream big and remember… be crazy my friends!

Biodynamic grapes


By respecting the beauty we found here.

Humility is the best and first step to take towards understanding: After all, this earth produces wonders even just by its mere existence.  If we were to change these wonders, we should make sure to keep their essence pure and intact, we should not be interfering, but we should step back and attempt to understand where those characteristics come from.

If we change them, we destroy them…
… and we will never get to understand.
This is why we do not intervene.

Our belief in humility

If we want to keep all learning processes alive, the main attitude is that of humility. “You shouldn’t gloat about anything you’ve done; you ought to keep going and find something better to do”.
(David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett Packard)

I believe that an open mind is able to increase sensitivity and that it is only possible if somebody is capable of very high levels of self-criticism: in the production of excellence, sensitivity is “conditio sine qua non”.

Being receptive to criticism and learning is the best humbling attitude.

Respect should come first, our wines must be healthy. We believe that any chemical added to the soil will ultimately end up – even if in tiny quantities – inside our wines.

We have witnessed that science hasn’t been capable of detecting specific molecules that have been later considered dangerous for our health.

Therefore, we decided to avoid any non-natural chemical additive in the vineyards, as well as in the cellar where we only use small doses of sulfur (although we are in the process of eliminating it soon). There are two reasons for such practices: first of all, we do not want to run the risk of later discovering that something we had considered harmless it actually wasn’t and, moreover, we think that using chemicals or exogenous substances stains the image that nature imprints in our wines.

Biodynamic Winery in Montalcino

With which techniques?


To us, Biodynamic farming reflects the ancient methods our ancestors used to grow and produce food before more modern techniques took off. Most of the agriculture today has turned into an agro-industry, so we have decided to rethink our approach and starting from 2011 we have been applying the principles of biodynamic agriculture.

Biodynamic agriculture is, by definition, a philosophy that allows a farm to evolve as a complex and interconnected agricultural organism. This trajectory has led us to make Le Ripi not just a winery but a farm in constant development. We produce wine, oil, honey and vegetables, we have a small herd consisting of a cow, 12 sheep, 2 donkeys, and 5 goats that are growing and enriching our ecosystem.

For us it is nothing more than the best way we have available to achieve our goals. We can allow ourselves to dream of letting the terroir emerge in our wines by reducing our agricultural impact by applying less invasive techniques, and are thus able to put the plants in communication with their surroundings.

We can do agriculture and business in a way that our successors do not inherit a compromised soil resource, employing more people, creating a better work environment, and healthier products.

Also, something worth mentioning, especially during these times of global warming: Biodynamic practices fix up to 4 tons of CO2 in the soil every year and, compared to conventional practices, are far better: those release up to 4 tons. of CO2 per year! Take a look at to understand how regenerative agriculture will reduce the concentration of CO2 in the air and how this will stop climate change.

Podere le Ripi has been certified Organic and Biodynamic since 2011. Demeter is the certifying body that certifies and protects the integrity of Podere Ripi’ biodynamic agriculture and products.

Furthermore, in 2018 we happily joined Triple A portfolio.

Triple A is a world-renowned natural wine distributor. It stands for Artisans, Artists, Farmers. Their mission is to spread the word of organic, biodynamic and natural wine, one bottle at a time; they are a true institution in the world of natural wine producers. They are motivated to carry on what they call their Movement, a Movement against the standardization of wine production and in favor of the true meaning of the word “wine”.

triple a

Vineyards and Winemaking

Vineyards and Winemaking

Our vineyards are divided between two different sides of Montalcino: East and West. Each side of the hill holds completely different soil characteristics. That’s why we believed from the start in a research path that aimed to offer wines that are pure, both in terms of vintage and geological area.

On the Westside…

Rooted in a natural oasis called “Il Galampio”, right in the center of an oak forest, our vineyards have successfully grown at an altitude of 150 meters above sea level. This side of the hill receives mainly the evening sun, and in the mornings is protected by the surrounding hills of Montalcino. On average, the age of these vineyards is around 30 years old, planted accordingly to the Montalcino tradition: 4,500 plants per hectare and spurred cordon as their chosen training method. The soil’s main composition is clay and lime, enriched by various stone pebbles and metamorphic rocks (galestro) belonging to a more recent geological era. The outcome of such soil combination creates abundant grapes with crunchy tannins, and wines with more diluted fruit, delicate and classic. That is where the Sogni e Follia and Cielo D’Ulisse originate from.


On the East Side…

Lying on the eastern edge of Castelnuovo Dell’Abate, about 250 meters above sea level, our historic vineyards are warmed up by tepid morning sun.

Castelnuovo is renowned for wines with a well-structured body, a perfect depiction of one of the most ancient terroirs of Montalcino. These terroirs distinguished themselves by a makeup of oceanic clay dating back 5 million years ago, which is very often mixed with sodium, turning this clay quite rich in salt. Moreover, tuff and silica sand, compressed by geological pressures, are quite compact. Soil is very rich in limestone – which originated from marine fossils – this makes our soil pure marl, influenced by several kinds of minerals. Furthermore, Monte Amiata, the ancient volcano, is only 11km from us, therefore the presence of volcanic debris shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Over here the density of the vineyards ranges from  5000 plants per hectare to 11.1oo plants per hectare, and again all the way to 62.000 plants per hectare for the Bonsai vineyard. These vineyards are trained with either guyot or goblet. These vineyards enjoy a daily breeze coming from the Orcia river and are well protected by the Monte Amiata (1.738 meters above sea level) which means that Castelnuovo is one of the driest subzones of Montalcino.

Here we are able to express all of the intensity of the best Sangiovese there is, with a perfect mineral balance which undoubtedly is the main distinction of these areas.

The wines Bonsai, Lupi e Sirene and Amore e Magia represent this corner of Montalcino.

Montalcino Wine Map