Italian Vintner Renato Vacca Dies at 51

The Barbaresco native convinced his father to create their own winery at their hilltop vineyard

Italian Vintner Renato Vacca Dies at 51
Renato Vacca at the namesake pine of Cantina del Pino. His wines were elegant and complex. (Takuji Shimmura)
Mar 23, 2020

Renato Vacca, one of Barbaresco's most talented winemakers, died March 14 after a yearlong battle with cancer. Vacca, along with his wife, Franca Miretti, owned Cantina del Pino, producing wines that were elegant and complex, with the structure to age. He was 51.

"I have always been extremely impressed by his dedication to reach the greatest purity and terroir distinction in all his wines, which, like him, may appear humble and shy when young, but which absolutely shine after a few years in the bottle," said Aldo Vacca, Renato's cousin and the current director of the Produttori del Barbaresco winery.

After growing up in Barbaresco and studying winemaking at the school of enology in Alba, Vacca spent five years with Produttori del Barbaresco, the local cooperative where the family sold its grapes. In 1997 he convinced his father to leave the co-op and start their own label. Vacca wanted to test his own ideas and methods in the vineyard and cellar.

Cantina del Pino's simple label depicts the giant pine tree marking the top of the Ovello hill where the estate is located. The tree was planted by Domizio Cavazza, one of the founders of the original Barbaresco cooperative in 1894, to celebrate the birth of his son in 1886. Vacca's great-grandfather Giuseppe purchased the estate from Cavazza's son in 1920, renaming it after the maritime pine.

Vacca's Barbarescos are understated and elegant when young, yet expressive, complex and with the structure to age. The Ovello is the flagship, from vineyards around the house and cellar, but there are also single-vineyard labels from Albesani and occasionally Gallina, plus a Barbaresco blended from three vineyards. Though traditional in style, Vacca also used neutral barriques for the first year of aging, transferring the wine to 20-hectoliter casks for another 12 to 20 months, depending on the cuvée.

Vacca and his cousin Aldo were close and lived next-door to each other. “This last year, knowing where his life was going, was quite sad,” Aldo told Wine Spectator. “But I tried to cherish every little time we could spend together. I am glad he has been able to work harvest 2019 still in relatively decent health.”

In addition to his wife, Vacca is survived by his daughter, Anna.

News Obituaries Nebbiolo Italy Piedmont

You Might Also Like

Chateau Ste. Michelle Without the Chateau?

Chateau Ste. Michelle Without the Chateau?

Washington state's biggest winery puts its flagship Woodinville property on the market

Jun 24, 2022
2 Restaurants Win New Grand Awards in 2022

2 Restaurants Win New Grand Awards in 2022

Wine Spectator recognizes dining destinations in New York and Napa Valley with its top …

Jun 23, 2022
Exclusive: Foley Family Wines Buys Napa’s Silverado Vineyards

Exclusive: Foley Family Wines Buys Napa’s Silverado Vineyards

Vintner, finance executive and hockey team owner Bill Foley secures 300 acres of Napa vines …

Jun 21, 2022
Josh Jensen, Founder of Calera Wine Company, Dies at 78

Josh Jensen, Founder of Calera Wine Company, Dies at 78

The California pioneer turned his passion for Pinot Noir into one of the state's most …

Jun 13, 2022
Instagram Live Chats: View Wine Spectator's Upcoming Schedule

Instagram Live Chats: View Wine Spectator's Upcoming Schedule

Our next episode features J Vineyards winemaker Nicole Hitchcock

Jun 26, 2022
Napa Valley Barrel Auction Raises $1.5 Million in Collective Napa Valley Debut

Napa Valley Barrel Auction Raises $1.5 Million in Collective Napa Valley Debut

The Napa Valley Vintners association has replaced the landmark Auction Napa Valley charity …

Jun 8, 2022