Ca’ dei Zago
Owners & winemakers: Christian & Marika Zago
Vineyards: 6.5 ha across three parcels
Vineyard management: Practicing biodynamic. Since 1924: no herbicide, no fertilizer besides manure, only copper and sulfur
Soils: Sandy clay soils with a high flint content
Grapes grown: Glera, Verdiso, Perera, Bianchetta
Annual production: 50,000 bottles
- The vineyards have never seen herbicide or artificial fertilizers since they were first planted in 1924.
- After studying modern enology at university, siblings Christian and Marika returned to their family’s traditional practices.
- In 2020, they fixed up the old stables and brought in a few Grigio Alpina cows, a traditional local heritage breed of which only a few thousand animals remain.
The domaine was founded in 1924 as a mixed family farm, and from day one, it functioned as what we would consider today the epitome of a “natural” winery. The vineyards never saw herbicide or artificial fertilizer. Until 1992, dairy cows grazed amongst the vines and contributed natural fertilizer. Wines were bottled in spring and re-fermented spontaneously in bottle. Everything was simple and guided by the instincts of a farmer. When Christian and his sister Marika took over in 2010, they became the fifth generation of the family to make wine here. Both had studied enology at university, but much of what they learned was at odds with how they’d always done things at home. After work experience in New Zealand and Champagne, the siblings returned to Ca’ dei Zago to make wine the way their grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather did. In 2020, they even reintroduced dairy cows to the estate.
The hill known as Ca’ dei Zago is at the edge of the Valdobbiadene appellation, protected in the north by Monte Cesen and in the east by the Perlo promontory, creating an open basin of small hills exposed to the east, south, and west. Soils are sandy clay with a high proportion of flint.
The winemaking philosophy at the estate is simple: “In my opinion, for every piece of land growing autochthonous vines that are historically well-adapted to the territory, much like the people who cultivate them, the only style to adopt is that which transports into the bottle the purest and clearest expression of the earth. One succeeds at doing so by respecting the primary material.” For Christian and Maria, that means harvesting the grapes delicately, working them gently, respecting the spontaneous fermentation, giving the wine the time it needs to mature and settle without filtration or refrigeration, and bottling by gravity according to the lunar schedule.
“The wines that we produce, we drink them first and foremost ourselves with our family and friends, on important and unimportant occasions. I’d like every bottle of wine that leaves Ca’ dei Zago to carry this message of sunlight, harmony, and happiness to all the people who drink it around the world.” – Christian Zago