Giuseppe Quintarelli, a beloved wine producer in Veneto, died on Sunday at his home in Negrar, Italy after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 84. Regarded as the father of Amarone, Quintarelli inspired a cult following when he perfected a winemaking technique called appassimento, the process of air-drying grapes, which continues to define many Valpolicella wines today.
“He sought to make wines without compromise, devoting and sacrificing his entire life to his family and his Valle,” Celestino Gaspari, Quintarelli’s son-in-law, tells Wine Enthusiast Magazine, reading from the memorial he planned for the funeral. “He passionately protected and stressed the importance of his territory and his community.”
Affectionately known as “Bepi,” Quintarelli took over the family vineyards and established the Quintarelli brand at the heart of Valpolicella’s Classico subzone. His handwritten wine labels and uncompromising techniques soon became a celebrated Quintarelli trademark and inspired copycat designs all over the world.
A true Amarone traditionalist, Quintarelli’s winemaking style showed clarity, elegance and purity. He was not interested in the bold, over-extracted, sweet Amarone style that has become increasingly popular in recent years.
“He always avoided self-promotion and advertising in general, he never succumbed to market demands,” says Olga Bussinello, director of the Consorzio Tutela Vini Valpolicella, the local winegrowers’ association. “He let his wine speak for itself and this is what set his style apart.”
The estate will now be managed by Quintarelli’s surviving wife, Franca, daughter Fiorenza Grigoli and her husband Giampaolo Grigoli, along with their two sons, Francesco Grigoli and Lorenzo Grigoli.
“His strong and important legacy will forever be present in our family’s passion and work. Bepi’s passing will be felt across our community,” Gaspari says.