American Second-Home Buyers Are Pouring Into Italy’s Wine Country

After relocating to Milan from New York City’s Upper West Side in 2021, Bryony Bechtold, a teacher, and her husband, Piero Venturini, 50, a lawyer, began looking for a vacation property. With wine on their minds, they found what they were looking for 90 minutes away in northwest Italy’s Piedmont region, home to Barolo, one of the world’s most prized reds.

The couple, who have two teenage daughters, paid about $510,000 this past September for the 3,800-square-foot farmhouse on a 6.2-acre lot with a vineyard. They plan to spend about $160,000 on renovations, including an upgrade of the existing wine cellar.

“We like to drink wine,” says Ms. Bechtold, 47, a Connecticut native whose new property is planted with the Moscato grape. “And now we will learn all about the different grapes and how making wine works.”

The region has been long revered by sommeliers and foodies, but its second-home market has managed until recently to stay under the radar, catering mostly to a small group of Northern Europeans and some Italians from nearby Milan and Turin. Now, it is attracting a new wave of American buyers.  

Taking advantage of the current strength of the dollar, and bolstered by a sense of discovery, Americans are on a spree. And often they are looking for properties with vineyards—a must-have for new second-home buyers, says Luca Stroppiana, of Alba’s Langhe Real Estate, who handled the sale of the property to Ms. Bechtold and her husband.  

In addition to Barolo, Piedmont is also the birthplace of the Slow Food movement and Ground Zero for the hunting and buying of Italy’s precious white truffles. Generally referred to as the region’s Vineyard Landscape following its Unesco designation as a World Heritage site in 2014, this lush belt of villages and vineyards covers the subregions of Langhe and Monferrato.

New Mexico’s Jay and Elena Campbell bought a 200-year-old, 4,000-square-foot, three-story converted Monferrato farmhouse, sight unseen, in 2020 during the pandemic for about $340,500. Having lived and traveled in Italy previously, they now use the property’s 900-square-foot, ground-floor apartment for extended stays away from their primary home in Albuquerque, while renting out a few units in the upper floors for income.  

Mr. Campbell, 63, a retired aerospace engineer, says they like to use their time in Piedmont to go on wine tastings. “We are learning all the subtleties,” he says, of the couple’s greater appreciation of the area’s wine culture, adding that this corner of Monferrato is helping to rediscover a once obscure red grape called Ruchè.

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