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“Father & Son

An Interview with Andrea Felluga, Owner, Livio Felluga

By Lisa Gmur, CSW


The story of Livio Felluga dates back over five generations. The first Felluga’s made Refosco and Malvasia in their native Isola d’Istria. The two World Wars played havoc on the region and the family was displaced. They eventually settled in the rolling hills of Fruili. Livio Felluga, brought his family’s winemaking skills to this “new” Italy. As the eldest son of the fourth generation of the winemaking family, Livio Felluga was determined to keep the winemaking traditions alive. With great courage he began to restore old vineyards and plant news ones, introducing innovative ideas and techniques. 

Today, his son Andrea is at the helm and shares his father’s love for the land and commitment to quality. “My father’s motto that I recall often is: ‘Qualità, qualità, qualità!’” Andrea took over as winemaker from his father, in 1994. “It is a great honor and a big responsibility altogether,” says Andrea, “I can rely on the knowledge that was passed on to me and that inspires me to always look forward and to never settle in our achievements.”

In case you didn’t know, Livio turned 100 on September 20, 2014. That means he was making wine at 80. Pretty incredible. We talked with Andrea about his father, his childhood, his family, and of course, his wines.

Pictured Left: Andrea Felluga

Estate Expression of the Friulian Hills.


“Some years ago, I was at the vineyards with my father,” says Andrea, “I stopped to look at him walking along the rows. In that moment, I felt a deep affection for him. He was looking at the vines as if they were his children, his eyes very attentive and his hands caressing the vine shoots. I thought he was a lucky man, selfless and generous, cultivating the same love for his plants and his children. I went to his side and hugged him without saying anything.”

It may sound a little corny to say you can almost taste this love and passion in Livio Felluga wines, but you can. The wines all have a sense of history, of commitment and place and you really can taste how much they mean to the family. Their most famous wine, Terre Alte was created in 1981 and truly expresses the region. It’s a blend of Friulano, Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon.

Terre Alte is also recognized as one of Italy’s most prestigious white wines. “The inspiration for Terre Alte originated from my brother Maurizio and our wish to escape the role of passive children,” adds Andrea. “The goal was to put an Italian white wine at the top of the list of world wines.” And they have. Terre Alte is a very complex white wine that ages exceptionally well, like many of Italy’s famous reds.

Pictured Right: Livio Felluga


Andrea’s brothers and sister (Maurizio, Filippo and Elda) are all part of the family business, and they are all committed to maintaining tradition and making progressive, interesting wines. “From my parents we learned the importance of the commitment to your passions in order to achieve great things.”

The whole family understands and appreciates their father’s dream after his family was uprooted from their native Isola d’Istria. The region that was their home had became part of Italy after World War I. It was then passed to German control during World War II. Izola, as it is now known, is part of Slovenia. Looking at a map you can see how close Izola is to Trieste, the main city in Fruili.

When Livio Felluga moved to Fruili in the late 1930’s, he began learning the land; trying to figure out what grapes to grow. But in 1940 he was called up to serve in Africa and his plans were put on hold.  He was a prisoner of war at Cap Bon and later in Scotland before returning home to pursue his dream. That day of his dreams coming to fruition finally came in the 1950’s when he purchased his first few hectares at Rosazzo.

Today Rosazzo is considered one of the finest wine growing regions there is. The Livio Felluga winery is in Brazzano, just a few miles from the vineyards. The estate has 135 hillside hectares under vine and annual production averages 800,000 bottles.

“Friuli’s traditions and history have always been influenced by the cross-cultural origin of this land. Its beauty lies in its landscape, with the Adriatic Sea and the Alps in close proximity to one another,” says Andrea. The history of the region was also a fixture growing up. “Friuli is a border region and our estate lies just a few kilometers off the border. I remember we used to play in the woods where there were bunkers and tanks to defend Italy.”

Pictured Left: The vineyards as seen from the Abbazia di Rosazzo.

Abbazia di Rosazzo Abbey


Of course most of his youth was spent among the grapes. “I loved playing in the vineyards. I always felt at home running through the rows on the hills. The harvest was such a fun moment; it was like a party every day. As a teenager I spent a lot of time with my father in the vineyards. Riding with him on his jeep in the vineyards was so exciting!”

And of course there was wine. “Wine was always present, I don’t recall any family occasion without wine! As far back as I can remember, I have always been familiar with the taste of wine.” And Andrea was also very interested in the winemaking process. “I was always very attracted to the winemaking process and felt very passionate about it. I never really considered any other careers.” Like any family business, there are ups and downs. “It can be challenging at times, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. The understanding among my brothers and sister is something that goes beyond simple affection and we are always there to support each other. Of course, there is also room for confrontation too! I love my siblings when they say, ‘Okay, Andrea. You are right.’”

Andrea has two daughters; Laura and Chiara. He loves traveling.  His favorite part of the winemaking process? “The harvest is the most exciting part. Every decision you make is going to have an effect on the whole production. In addition, the best part is that every year is different. There are always new challenges and new experience adding up.” Andrea has also recently been exploring some new interests. “Eastern traditions are extremely fascinating to me. Recently, I started to learn more about Bonsai, a very soothing hobby.”

Pictured Right: Laura Felluga is the third generation of the Livio Felluga estate, she is also a sixth generation wine producer.


Andrea says he “makes a mean Risotto” so I was not surprised to learn it’s a favorite pairing with the Terre Alte. “I love the Terre Alte with Risotto and fish from Grado. The Pinot Grigio with Cjalsons.” Cjalsons are a traditional dish of sweet and savory dumplings from Fruili.

“I love our Sauvignon with pasta with spring vegetables and our Fruilano with Oysters.” Well, all of those food and wine combinations are positively mouth watering. And the best part; you don’t even need a wine opener to drink them. Livio Felluga has embraced the Stelvin cap.

“Thanks to the Stelvin cap,” he says, “every nuance of the aromatic profile is retained and every bottle shows at its best. The bottle variation is kept at a minimum and white wines gain even more elegance without cork interaction. When the wine is aged, that is even more important.”

Livio Felluga winery is also committed to the future. “We are currently focusing on sustainability and continue to improve our environmental footprint.” Great wines, true story.

Pictured Left: The hills of Friuli.