A Barolo maestro's Mediterranean dream


Elio Altare has been up since dawn, working in a vineyard rooted on terraces about 600 feet above deep-blue Mediterranean waters.

Altare, the legendary Barolo winemaker, officially retired nine years ago. But at 65, he still works in his vineyards and finds time for the love of his later life: making small amounts of white wine in the rugged—and once endangered—vineyards of the Cinque Terre on Italy's Ligurian coast.

"I have a very big problem: I love this job," says Altare, tying up new vine growth as a few of his also-retired cousins hoe away weeds and repair drystone walls. "I can't stop. I work 12 hours a day. I am a very stupid man."

This year marks Altare's 50th vintage, and the eighth for his Campogrande wine label in the Cinque Terre. 

A small trim man with a receding gray hairline, a toothy smile and the energy of a vineyard swallow, Altare bought about 1 acre of land here 15 years ago, after it had been abandoned for decades. "I want to work not for money, but emotion," he says. "I am a dreamer."

The Cinque Terre—a string of five fishing villages connected by mountain paths—is a national park, UNESCO World Heritage site and destination for millions of backpacking tourists.

But the difficult coastal vineyards....read the full blog at winespectator.com (free)