On Wednesday 25 January 2023, Luca Currado and Elena Penna announced their resignation from Vietti. Fifth-generation winemaker Currado started working at his family’s former estate in 1991. His wife Penna joined a few years later taking on responsibility for sales and hospitality.
In July 2016, they surprised colleagues and clients with the sale of Vietti to American business tycoon, Kyle Krause. Despite initial fears, the acquisition did not open the floodgates to an onslaught of outside investment.
Currado and Penna have always insisted that the intention was not to cash in. Ownership of the company included other family members who were not interested in continuing the business. ‘We looked for a solution that allowed us to keep the brand intact,’ Currado told Decanter at the time.
Currado stayed on as CEO and, until now, the couple ran the estate as usual – making the wine, visiting markets around the world, and holding forth at the winery. Behind the scenes, there was significant growth, with purchases of prime vineyard land in renowned MGAs (Menzione Geografica Aggiuntiva) such as Roncaglie, Rabajà, Cerequio and Monvigliero. As he exits, Currado estimates Vietti’s current vineyard holdings at 80 hectares across the Langhe, Asti and Colli Tortonesi.
‘It was time to cut the umbilical cord,’ said Currado, who added that he is leaving the winery in ‘capable hands’. With the sale and subsequent growth of the estate, his role became less focused on the wines and vineyards, and more concentrated on reports and business planning. ‘You know me, I like to get my hands dirty,’ he said.
Currado and Penna’s sudden resignation came as much of a surprise as the initial sale. ‘But sooner or later it had to be,’ reflected Poderi Colla’s Tino Colla, whose brother Beppe Colla was responsible for Barolo’s first ‘cru’ bottlings along with Currado’s father, Alfredo. ‘While it erodes our social fabric it doesn’t signify a loss of quality,’ he continues, pointing to the well-established organisation at Vietti.
According to Currado, the winemaking team and administrative employees will stay on, and Beppe Caviola will remain as external consulting oenologist. Group president for Krause, Franco Denari will take over as director of the estate. While the couple’s resignation is effective immediately, Currado will see the transition through over the next three months.
‘It could be a blow for the winery as they [Currado and Penna] were the face of Vietti,’ said Piazzo Comm. Armando’s Simone Allario Piazzo, adding that it’s a loss for the producers of the Langhe. ‘But they will still be here.’
Indeed, now in their early 50s, the couple are not leaving the drinks industry: Penna will continue to grow her eponymous brand, which includes boutique Vermouth, London Dry Gin and Amaro; Currado meanwhile, already a consultant at Tuscany’s Querciabella, plans on building up his consulting work with estates across Italy.
‘It is difficult to leave behind something you love,’ said Currado. Nevertheless, with his children now in university, he is looking to the future. ‘Who knows, perhaps they will need my help with projects down the road.’