Calabrian High Style

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When many of his peers in southern Italy were abandoning family farms and vineyards, Roberto Ceraudo went the other direction.

The son of a grain merchant, Ceraudo grew up in the Calabrian countryside and dreamed of having his own land. In 1973, he borrowed money to buy an abandoned 100-acre estate in Strongoli, in the hills above the Ionian coast, just south of the Cirò wine appellation.

Ceraudo then set to work—planting vineyards in the chalky clay soils, reclaiming centuries-old olive groves, renovating a 400-year-old farmhouse and excavating a lake fed by well water.

"When everyone was going to the beach in summer, I was here working," says Ceraudo from the seat of his tractor. He is stopped on a ridge with idyllic views of his now 250-acre estate, which spills toward a dark blue sea. A jaunty smile crosses his tanned face, framed by flowing silver hair and a raffish goatee.

Today, at 68, Ceraudo works with his three children. He is a local legend, renowned for his wines, olive oil and a gastronomic restaurant—now run by daughter Caterina, 29, one of Italy's most celebrated young chefs.

"When Robert does something, he does it at a very high level," says Cirò winemaker Francesco Maria De Franco, part of the new wave of Calabrian vintners who look to Ceraudo as a visionary...read the full blog at winespectator.com