Fattoria delle Ripalte: a sustainable farm

Artefacts and remains of Etruscan smelting furnaces testify to settlements from the 9th century B.C., but it was only from the first half of the 19th century, when mining began on Monte Calamita, that well documented human activity commenced on Ripe Alte.

The Fattoria was founded in 1896 by Count Tobler, a Swiss nobleman who fell in love with Italy, with the aim of realizing a great project of his: a modern farm in which the cultivation of vines was given great importance.

The entire territory, about 450 hectares, represented the largest farm on the island, but wine production and farming activities were abandoned by the following owners who were mainly interested in leisure and hunting.
The current property, acquired in 1977, has developed a natural vocation for tourism in the area, but mindful of the past, in 2002 it reintroduced viticulture: now sixteen hectares of new vineyards occupy the best positions on the Estate.

A large part of the production comes from Aleatico grapes which, when properly vinified, produce a lovely Rosato and a sweet and complex Passito, very pleasant to drink. The other vineyards grow grapes representative of the Mediterranean area: Vermentino and Fiano, Alicante and Carignano.

The vineyard is planted on difficult, stony and drained soils and is, in part, terraced. The vine yields little but the quality of the grapes is high. The soils are worked according to the principles of sustainable agriculture: organic fertilization and green manure, no chemical weeding and limited phytosanitary treatments.
Around 1890 the wild beauty of the area attracted the attention of a remarkable figure, Oscar Tobler, who used to sail the Tyrrhenian Sea on his yacht starting from the Livorno base. Of Swiss origin, having already moved to Livorno in 1772, Tobler was - between Livorno and Pisa - an entrepreneur in several sectors. His passion, however, was always agriculture, considered in a dimension between economic/rational and humanistic/social.
From 1889 to 1906, he bought four properties on the island. Tenuta di Capo Calamita (today Tenuta delle Ripalte) was the most impressive and risky investment, being the most isolated (access was limited to footpaths or from the sea, because the current access road was only built in 1925, for the use of the mines) and almost without a residential population, only with the seasonal workers coming from Capoliveri.

It was also the most "targeted" in terms of agronomy, because it was almost exclusively aimed at the production of wine (village memories speak of more than three thousand barrels per year around 1910), sold to Genoese traders who loaded it onto sailing ships that docked at the beaches along the coast.
Tobler's economic fortune declined at the end of the First World War; between the two World Wars he sold it to an eminent figure of Italian Industry, Umberto Quintavalle (for decades Vice President and General Manager of Magneti Marelli), who, however, reduced the wine production, transforming it into a splendid "buen retiro" for himself, his family and friends.

At that time, the custom of game hunting in September took hold (the estate was, and still is, rich in hares, pheasants, partridges), in which many members of the entrepreneurial and professional world took part. This continued even after the transfer of the estate to his daughter Luisa, married to Marquis Niccolò Theodoli. In the meantime, the economy of Elba and in particular that of Capoliveri, from agricultural and mining, transformed into tourism, and the current management of the Estate was part of this evolution.
Today, with the integration of wine production and hospitality, we return to the original spirit set by Oscar Tobler.


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