For the past ten years Franco Bernabei, a man whom many consider to be Italy’s foremost consulting enologist, has quietly practiced his virtuoso brand of winemaking artistry at Sartori di Verona, where his initiatives are generating unprecedented levels of quality for this well-known wine producer. At Sartori, Bernabei is an integral part of the winemaking team and has been truly hands-on — not just flying in for a routine yearly check-up.

Winemaker Bernabei has come a long way since the early 1970s when as an unruly adolescent, sporting long hair and sideburns, he toured the clubs and bars of his native Veneto region, playing Jimmy Hendrix-inspired guitar solos with a rock band called the Icemen. In the decades since, Bernabei has blazed a trail of a different kind, to become one of Italy’s most influential and sought-after consulting winemakers.

Sameness and typicality have no place in Bernabei’s approach to winemaking: “On the contrary,” he asserts, “I make it my mission to uncover the individual nature of every wine I work with and give it self-expression,” adding, almost as a mantra: “And individuality begins in the soil.”