Sebastiano Cossia Castiglioni is the owner and founder of Querciabella, a pioneering winery based in Tuscany, Italy. Querciabella first went organic in 1988, a decision that eventually led to the company’s complete transition and adherence to strict biodynamic and veganic practices. Castiglioni’s cruelty-free farming techniques nourish the soil ecosystem naturally; utilize cover crops that attract bees, birds, and other animals; forgo the use of any chemical pesticides or fertilizers; and even consider how the phases of the moon affect plant growth. Castiglioni believes we should “work with nature, not against it” in order to achieve the perfect balance for sustainability. Querciabella’s wines have garnered worldwide acclaim, including winning Best Italian Wine in Class magazine’s Guide of Guides in 2004.
In addition to agriculture, Castiglioni is an accomplished entrepreneur in a multitude of fields—including industrial design, financial services, advanced technology, and real estate—as he says, he tries “to influence the world in different ways.” He also advises fine art collectors and has even started his own classical music label. As an investor, he has backed numerous plant-based companies, such as Lighter and Beyond Meat.
Born in Milan in 1966, Castiglioni became a vegetarian overnight after witnessing an anti-vivisection demonstration on the street. Eventually transitioning to veganism, he has been a staunch animal rights activist for close to 30 years: “I think it’s undeniable now that doing without animal products in general is a very good choice for the environment, for the economy, for the quality of life,” he says.
During a 2017 episode of the podcast The Plant-Based Entrepreneur Show, Castiglioni recalled encountering the work of CAF co-founder Tom Regan, calling him a “founding philosopher of the animal rights movement” and “one of the influencing figures in my life.” In the podcast, recorded a few days before Tom’s death in February 2017, Castiglioni reflected: “I had the luck of meeting Tom Regan personally. He is a fantastic figure. He is a professor, he is a teacher, he is an educator—and through his ideas and his wonderful way of presenting his ideas, he convinces entire generations of people to look at what we do to animals and consider their suffering and making it part of the equation.”
The impact Tom’s work and advocacy on Castiglioni is obvious. He has been a champion of Tom, CAF’s Compassionate Living Festival, and now as a member of our advisory board.