Podere Pradarolo is the estate and today wine estate of Alberto and Claudia Caretti in the Parma hills in Emilia-Romagna. Alberto, descendant of a prominent family of cheese producers, bought the domain in 1972, and turned the farm into a wine estate in 1989, with the idea of rigorously letting nature determine every step of the process. In the past, all farms were also arranged according to polyculture principles, and in the region it was therefore normal to alternate the vineyards with fruit orchards and fields of grain; Alberto and Claudia wanted to return here. Since the 1980s, the orchards have been certified organically and in the cellar, the common thread in the wines is the completely natural process and the relatively long macerations and élevage,
The area, and in particular the Ceno valley, is quite rural and heavy industry is scarce in the area. The Ceno River meanders through the valley like a snake, creating cooling and irrigation in various places that form characteristic points in the landscape. The area and its micro-climate lend themselves well to viticulture, and the orchards are located in a place that is cooled at night by winds from the Ligurian coast, giving the wines wonderful aromas. The entire domain covers about 60 hectares, of which vineyards cover about 9 hectares. The wine cellars themselves are located in the old dairy part of the farm, and in 2016 they had a new underground cellar built. Vinegar is also made on site and they bake their own bread.
Alberto himself is very interested in studying and bringing back indigenous, old grape varieties, and they have set up a 'nursery' in which many different forgotten grape varieties are cultivated, with the aim of sharing them with interested winegrowers. One of the ideas behind this project is to possibly prevent the development of grape diseases, and to find grape varieties that are resistant to changing climate conditions. The old varieties planted are closely monitored over long periods of time, and various pruning methods are also experimented with. Currently, most of the vineyards actively producing wine cover some 9 hectares, and are planted with Barbera, Malvasia and Termarina, but the aim is to to be expanded to approximately 18 hectares together with the 'nursery' orchards. The oldest orchards date from the late 1980s and early 1990s, but a portion was also planted in 2005 and 2016.
The wines are at all times spontaneously fermented in steel or in concrete, without temperature control and without sulfur or any other product. Furthermore, long skin contact is generally used to make the wines resilient and to extract the most from the valuable skins. Also, the wines are only released when they are deemed ready by Alberto and Claudia; this varies a lot from year to year, and can sometimes ensure that the wines enjoy an enormously extensive bottle age.
A specialty of Podere Pradarolo is making (semi-) sweet wine from dried grapes, called passito. They make passito from Malvasia and the indigenous variety Termarina, by first drying the best grapes with the most beautiful skins from the orchards on mats in the sun, which can take between one and three weeks, depending on the weather conditions. The grapes are then pressed, fermented and aged. The Malvasia passito is released by vintage, but the Termarina passito goes into a 'solera system'. The system contains passito from 2006 up to and including the current vintage, with new passito being added every year, and some tapping of the whole. The barrels in the solera system are also not completely capped, to give the wine an oxidative character.