Castel de Paolis


Though Lazio may not be as revered in winemaking terms as Tuscany, Piedmont or Veneto, wines from the region’s Frascati DOC have long been legend in Rome, and are still favorites among visitors to the Eternal City. Now, a handful of producers in Lazio are reshaping the image of wines from the Castelli Romani, producing bottles to perhaps rival those from Italy’s more celebrated winemaking regions. Among these producers is Castel de Paolis, whose estate is located 270 meters above sea level in the hills of Grottaferrata, just south of Rome. The vineyards have been in the Santarelli family since the 1960s, although it wasn’t until 1985, when Giulio Santarelli met Attilio Scienza, a professor at Milan University and director of the prestigious Agricultural Institute of San Michele all’Adige, that the modern Castel de Paolis winery began to evolve.

Following close inspection of Santarelli’s hilly, volcanic terrain, Scienza suggested a complete overhaul of its 13 hectares. Underperforming vines were uprooted and replaced with rare, out-of-favor local grapes. After these varieties gave positive results, Santarelli extended the experiment to include successful international varieties.

Equipped with the most advanced winemaking technology, Castel de Paolis was certified organic in 1992. Though the winery gave up this certification in 2007 due to bureaucratic issues, current owner Fabrizio Santarelli (Giulio’s son) still operates under the strictest organic principles. In addition to producing delicious wines under the Castel de Paolis label, Fabrizio also acts as president of Le Vigne del Lazio, a consortium of the region’s winemakers. Having successfully reimagined his own winery, with this new position comes the task of reshaping the winemaking image of the entire region of Lazio, and promoting wines its wines to an international market.

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Castel De Paolis I Quattro Mori 2009Castel De Paolis Muffa Nobile 2011