A crossroads of history, nature, and traditions

Terre dei Santi cultivates the heart of Piedmont, the hills that boast centuries of renowned winegrowing

A land of ancient—and troubled—history, because it is the crossroads of routes between the Mediterranean Sea and Northern Europe on the one hand and the Po River valley and France on the other. A land of borders, too, contested and fought over in every era: the Savoy dynasty and the Marquises of Monferrato, the Franks and the Lombards, the Angevins and the Visconti of Milan. Each left traces of itself in the fortifications whose remains characterise the local villages, and in the religious structures as well. An excellent example is the Monastery of Vezzolano, one of Piedmont’s most significant medieval monuments, reportedly founded by Charlemagne.

It boasts places with rich traditions and untouched nature, with woods, vineyards, and crops alternating everywhere, creating a landscape of exciting biodiversity and unmatchable beauty. These are places of faith, too, with deep-rooted spiritual vocations, giving the world great figures in the contemporary history of the Catholic Church, such as St. John Bosco and his student, St. Dominic Savio; St. Joseph Cafasso, and Blessed Joseph Allamano.

Gentle hills and shaded woods, vineyards and other crops


The Castelnovo area, known as the Caastelnovese, takes in the hilly area around the town of Castelnuovo Don Bosco, extending more or less from Berzano di San Pietro on the north to Capriglio in the south, and from Cocconato in the east to Moncucco Torinese in the west. They make up a variegated landscape of broad valleys and gently-rolling hills, prized by lovers of walking, long-distance hiking, and horseback-riding. The classic grape varieties here are malvasia di Schierano, also called malvasia corta, and malvasia nera lunga, both grown here since the 16th century as malvaticus. Today, they are used to produce Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco DOC, a sweet, naturally-sparkling wine that Terre dei Santi makes in several styles. But this zone also cultivates the greatest amount of the freisa grape in the Freisa d’Asti denomination and of nebbiolo in the Albugnano denomination.

Geologically, the formation of the Castelnuovo hills originated in the Messinian stage of the Miocene, when the entire Piedmont basis was submerged beneath the sea. Turbidity currents created enormous mounds of sediment on the marine floor, which through a later process of compacting, and became a hill system, which was among the first features to emerge when the waters retreated. That process yielded several characteristic phenomena, among them the chalk accumulations still visible today across the area. The Castelnovese can be divided into three distinct zones, a central band, marked by soils with a sandy chalk matrix, which gives lively colour and outstanding structure to the wines, producing products of impressive longevity, in particular Barbera d’Asti. A northern band lies south of the township of Pino d’Asti, extending through Castelnuovo Don Bosco, Mondonio, Morialdo, and Ranello; fluvial deposits predominate, with generous areas of löss, which feature banks of fairly fine sand. Such soils are particularly suited to the cultivation of Bonarda. Finally, a southern band is composed of tuff and sand alternating with bare rock, classic to a mountain environment. There, in the denomination of Albugnano, whose hills reach a height of 549 metres, the elevation and the forests cool the climate, making it the ideal habitat for nebbiolo, heightening its acidity and aromatic complexity.

The hills of Chieri lie on the southwestern border of the province of Turin, up against the province of Asti.


An arc of hills develops around the city of Chieri, extending from the Superga hill as far as Moncucco Torinese and Riva presso Chieri. Geologically, the system formed during the Messinian stage, but it underwent significant subsequent changes, due to the action of the pre-historic Po river and its deviation. The soils are predominantly clay marls with some silica sands, limestone, and iron oxide, which give the wines their vibrant character, crisp acidity, and fine structure. The lush Chieri hills have traditionally served as the “holiday escape” for the residents of Turin, offering locales for both picnics and fine dining.

The Chieri district is the domain and denomination of freisa, an authentic Piedmont native variety, with documentation going back to the 16th century. Freisa di Chieri is made dry, semi-sparkling, or fully sparkling, easily maintaining its excellent acidity, smooth suppleness, and delicate fruit notes.

Another prominent grape native to the Turin hills is cari, cultivated in a handful of vineyards, mostly in the township of Baldissero Torinese and in near-by Chieri. Very challenging in terms of soils, cari was traditionally planted in specific sections of a vineyard, where generations of growers had identified the appropriate spot, even right among freisa vines. Even today, the Collina Torinese Cari denomination is Italy’s only DOC that permits the official registration of individual vines in a vineyard instead of the entire vineyard. A member of the Pelaverga family of varieties, cari’s production is quite limited, rarely over 8,000 bottles per year.

San Damiano d’Asti is the capital of the Terre Alfieri denomination, a hilly district northeast of the Roero, between Alba and Asti, on the left bank of the Tanaro.


The landscape here presents a very differentiated profile, with rounded, gently-rolling contours, but steep and rough ridges as well, as around Cisterna d’Asti, the terminus of the Rocche Roero ridge, where yellow-sandstone calanchi, steep and deeply-furrowed, unexpectedly break the landscape, exhibiting solid rock towers and canyons up to hundreds of metres deep. Geologically, this area, too, originated underwater, though in a more recent period around Villafranchiano, where a profusion of fossils testifies to the enormous biodiversity that developed as the waters receded. The slopes near the Roero are of a more ancient origin, where seabed sands predominate in the soils and across the landscape.

In this area of woods, crop fields, and vegetable gardens, barbera and nebbiolo are the predominant varieties; the loose, sand-rich soils left behind by ancient lakes and rivers allow them to flourish and give the wines just moderate structure, but outstanding finesse and delicate fragrances.