Le Cascinette is an eleven acre wine producing estate with its vineyards and winery in Masserano, Italy. Masserano is a small hill town in the foothills of the Alps in northern Piedmont between the cities of Milan and Turin, in an area known as Alto Piemonte. Le Cascinette was founded by Carlo Forzani and Reka Ludanyi, both lawyers in private practice in Connecticut who retired from the law to devote themselves to this venture.
For over two centuries the foothills of Alto Piemonte have produced some of Italy’s finest wines. Alto Piemonte is now experiencing a renaissance in winemaking. We are reclaiming these ancient vineyards and winemaking practices to produce modern wines of purity, depth, and elegance. We do so with respect for nature and for our wine-making traditions. We believe that organic and biodiverse farming practices and traditional and natural wine making methods produce the finest wines. We are also blessed to be located in an area with a long history of fine Italian cooking and hospitality. At our winery we pair wine with the fine food of Piedmont.
We want to bring this wine and food, this history, and the lifestyle of this special land, to our guests. We have designed wine and food events, cooking classes and custom tours of our region to bring this experience to you.
A Brief History
For centuries the foothills of Alto Piemonte have provided sustenance for the people who lived here. These hills, with their temperate climate and fertile soils, are a favored land which produce a bounty of agricultural products. Cows, sheep and goats graze in Alpine meadows, providing milk, butter and an array of fine cheeses. Heirloom rice and corn grow in the valleys. Mushrooms, chestnuts and salad greens grow wild in the forests and in between vineyard rows. Family gardens and orchards produce an abundance of heirloom vegetables, fruits, and flowers.
And from our vineyards comes wine, the most iconic of agricultural products. The making of wine is a partnership between nature and the winemaker which transforms the grape into a food of daily sustenance and conviviality. The vintages stored in the family wine cellars have also provided a form of continuity and a part of the family’s story across the years
In our town of Masserano, as in the rest of Alto Piemonte, the vineyards, orchards and vegetable gardens covered the hills until the mid-twentieth century. For most families the walk to the vineyard to tend the grapes, work in the vegetable garden and tend to the animals was a daily ritual that defined life. At home the family cook took the products of the land and prepared meals that respected the primary ingredients that had been gathered. This was home cooking born in the forests, fields and gardens and nurtured in the family kitchen. The kitchen was, and remains, the center of family life here, the place where food is prepared, meals are taken around the family table, and all things of importance are discussed. Most of this work in field and in kitchen was, and is still, done by hand, forging a bond between the earth and the worker, between ingredients and the cook.
After the two world wars Piedmont industrialized rapidly. The factories in nearby Biella and Torino offered jobs in textiles and in automotive manufacturing which became an easier way to earn a living. Many of the vineyards were abandoned. But the agricultural traditions persisted, as did winemaking in small family vineyards and in a few remaining commercial wineries. Those families which produced wine for sale continued a long tradition of fine wine making and created the classic viticultural area that is today known as Bramaterrra, literally meaning “Longing for the land”.
Today a new generation of young people are reclaiming these ancient vineyards and the traditional ways of making wine. The post-war experience with modern agriculture has shown that natural farming practices and biodiversity are the key to healthy and sustainable food production. In the cellar the old ways of making wine, allowing nature to take its course with natural yeasts and simple techniques, have been re-discovered. Now many of the best wine are produced with traditional methods. My great grandparents worked in the garden, in the orchard, and in the vineyard on the hill behind our family house in Masserano. My mother was raised here and then taught school during World War II in the Alpine towns north of Masserano before she returned to Connecticut to raise her own family. I have walked in these forests, fields and vineyards during the many visits to my family’s home in Masserano since I was a child. I have been fortunate to share food and wine, and lively conversations about life in Alto Piemonte, in the kitchens of family and friends here.
Le Cascinette was founded to reclaim these ancient vineyards and fine wine making traditions to produce modern wines of distinction. It is also our privilege to carry on the rich tradition of Piemontese cooking and hospitality and to share these gifts with our guests. We do so with respect for this land and its products, respect for the traditions of hand craftmanship, and respect for the importance of daily life and work. We regard ourselves as stewards of this land and of this way of life. We want to leave these vineyards teeming with life and preserve these traditions for the generations who come after us.