Casa Lucciola is a small family owned farm, focused on wine making. Certified for organic agriculture since 1998 and embracing biodynamics since 2014, Barbara and Luca Cruciani produce and bottle Verdicchio di Matelica DOC.
Why have we chosen to practice organic agriculture and more recently biodynamics? Because we are convinced that people engaged in agriculture have the task and responsibility of safeguarding the health of soil, ecosystems and people for future generations.
Our beautiful vineyards are established in the 9.8 acres surrounding our home and winery. Facing south-west, on a hill of 430 metres elevation named Casa Lucciola, we are in the heart of Verdicchio di Matelica, in the Macerata province of the Marche region. Our soil is mainly clayey, rich in limestone, which nourishes our grapes until, with a little help, they become our Verdicchio di Matelica.
We believe that agriculture should involve working hand in hand with Mother Nature through natural processes. As wine makers, we also strive to balance our ethos with manufacturing a high quality product that offers a special sensory experience – unique and different every year – which pleases our customers and respects our planet.
We would like to be on earth together, in harmony.
“I make wines in steel or in amphora. No wood. No compromises. I make 100% Umbrian Barbera (rosé and red but without sulphites!), 100% Pecorino (indigenous to this area), 100% Sangiovese, 100% Grechetto, 100% Trebbiano Spoletino, 100% Pinot Nero, a pet nat made with the refermentation along with the stems, and some old-way rural blends. I only produce a little less than 25,000 bottles.
My goal is to demonstrate the new and unique terroir of Valnerina, through biodynamic farming, like my grandfather taught me when I was a kid. Some of the vines I train are about 50 years old and spectacular to see, some I planted more recently, when I realized that my real ambition in life was winemaking. I’m not a guy who had money from his family and invested in wine for a hobby or second job. Wine is my only occupation. The vineyards are mine and the cellar is a room in my family’s house, my grandfather’s stable.
I have two lines of wine, the classic one and the one made in amphora. Both of them are made in a natural way without additives or clarifications. I work by myself in the vineyard and in the cellar. My wines are literally handmade because they are all harvested by hand in boxes, I punch down the cap using my own hands only while fermenting and I put all the labels with manual labeler. This old fashioned way of a winemaking takes way more time and energy but the result is really worth it. I’m really proud of the fine authentic wines that represent me as a person and the land where I grew up. I will be satisfied when I will be able to make you feel, when you open one of my bottles, the smell of the earth at sunset in spring.”
Daniele Proietti and Pierluca Proietti
Cousins Daniele and Pierluca Proietti are from Piglio, south of Rome in the Lazio region. They own 7 hectares of vineyards, divided into many small parcels on the most important crus of Cesanese del Piglio DOCG. All the vineyards are in the town of Piglio, where viticulture dates back to the Roman Empire. Some of the vineyards are home to ancient archeological finds of Nerva and Traiano’s villas that prove their very long history. The vineyards are between 15 and 90 years old, and have either been inherited or acquired by the family throughout the years. In addition to the vines, they cultivate 1000 indigenous olive trees, walnuts, officinal herbs and a vegetable garden.
The family began to approach natural farming in the 80s, through organic agriculture at first and later when Daniele and Pierluca delved into the application of biodynamic principles, the study of Fukuoka’s natural method and the use of homeopathy in agriculture.
They tried blending these theoretical and practical experiences with a winemaking tradition that is inspired by the approach of Roman agronomists like Columella and Catone, the very first examples of natural viticulture in this area. They were lucky to see these principles applied by the old farmers that live nearby. In the vineyard for example, they’ve substituted copper and sulphur with natural resistance activators that they often produce themselves. The most important thing for them is to give energy to the vines by fostering the fertility of the soil and the plant’s wood.
In this area cesanese has been growing for the past 500 years. Along with them, the two cousins grow and “foster” other ancient varietals of the Lazio tradition such as Passerina, Bellone, Ottonese, Nostrano and Fosco Peloso.
They follow a natural and traditional method in the cellar as well, focusing on their personal taste: expressive wines that are able to convey a deep immediate message and don’t need too many words to be fathomed.
They vinify them in an absolute natural manner using steel, concrete, amphoras, glass demijohns: their only tools. There are no added substances and yeasts. They use a very small amount of sulphur whenever necessary, but in general their wines have very little amounts of it. This doesn’t mean that they are funky, at all: they believe that the wines need to stand on their own legs, without external aid, and must be elegant and strong yet graceful.
Jack Lewens and Bruno Conciliis
Vigneti Tardis is a Sommelier meets Winemaker collaboration.
Jack and Bruno created Vigneti Tardis in summer 2017, making enough wine to start their story while in 2018 they made their first full range of 5 wines and up to 25,000 bottles. This will start to increase again from the 2020 harvest.
Championing local varieties, Fiano, Aglianico, and Aglianicone (a forefather to Aglianico, with bigger berries and thinner skin), as well as a small amount of Primitivo, Malvasia, Trebbiano, and Coda di Volpe. All the wines are made with native yeasts and no additions until a small sulphur addition at bottling. Wine remains on the lees until bottling, so some of the whites are given a very light bentonite fining. Any oak aging is in old, continuous use barrels.
Cilento is in Campania’s southerly province of Salerno, although the varieties are the same as the more famed appellations of Taurasi and Avellino, the territory is vastly different. Dominated by the Parco Nazionale del Cilento, Vallo di Diano e Alburni, a Unesco World Heritage Site, there no big agriculture while the coastline is also a protected marine park. The soils range from sedimentary limestone and schist to quartz, sand and slate. All vineyards are farmed organically (some in conversion) using biodynamic treatments.
The ‘La Settimana’ range of wines are named the days of the week (in the Italian) which correspond to the planets and the gods, as portrayed on their vivid labels. These are wines with a conscience; in region more commonly known for blockbusters they are expressive, super drinkable, elegant, and ageworthy.
Located on the moraine hills south of Lake Garda, in northern Italy, is one of the
brands with which Massimo Brutti, co-owner of Poggio delle Grazie, produces the
DOC line of Bardolino, Chiaretto, and Custoza.
The company, in biological conversion, believes in respecting nature and the raw
materials, to obtain wines that are fully representative of the territory.
The soils are mostly made of clay and stone, the harvest is only by hand, the
fermentation start spontaneously without any input, and the wines are not filtered
before bottling: these are the Lìreos wines.
“Our company was born from the history of a land that has seen its children grow on the vine, it derives from the union of the vineyards of two families, Portelli-Puleo, and Angileri. The land is distributed on the territory of the municipalities of Marsala and Mazara del Vallo, five hectares divided into six different areas cultivated with vines for more than a century. Almost all the vines are raised as saplings, with low yields per hectare and cultivated according to the dictates of tradition. We have always been farmers who sold their wine to small shops or to the wine factories of Marsala, we have gradually transformed into grape producers, breaking that link that is the unavoidable vineyard / winery, the only way to obtain products of the highest quality. From 2013 the decision to resume the interrupted journey and in the light of the experiences made by me and my father, as enotecologists in time and on the territory, we have returned to producing wine.”
Bakari was born from the desire of five professionals in the world of wine to offer something that wasn’t there. “We wanted a line of wines – explains Raffaele Bonivento, project leader – natural, well done, at an affordable cost that met specific requirements: easy to drink, democratic but not conceptual, for the people, without ethical and cultural superstructures. In short, good and natural wines for everyone “. The experience that gave birth to this project is that of: Raffaele Bonivento, a past in Vinnatur and Porthos, today he is a wine selector and president of Meteri, a young reality established in the world of natural wine; Stefano Menti, winemaker of the family business in Gambellara who works in a biodynamic regime and is an interpreter of Garganega.
Azienda Agricola Dario Prinčič
The Prinčič winery is located in the village of Oslavia, just north of the town of Gorizia, and a few steps from the border with Slovenia.
From our house you can see Gorizia (Italy) and Nova Gorica (Slovenia), behind the towns you can see also the mount Sabotino, where there were battles in the First World War. Behind the house there is a monument with 60.000 soldiers buried.
We started our winery in 1993. Before that Dario sold the grapes to local wineries. From 1988 he didn’t use any chemicals in vineyards, he started to use only natural fertilizers (cow and horse manure) and copper and sulfur for the spray treatments.
In 1999 he started to experiment the maceration of grapes on part of the production, the year after he decided to do it on the whole production.
Now the winery is over 10 hectares densely planted (about 8.000 vines per ha), with almost all the vineyards exposed to the southeast.
Because it’s very steep and the soil is composed of clay and sandstone, we have to do everything by hand.
The harvest usually lasts from mid-September to mid-October, but we pick the grapes when mature. During the summer we trim the vines to produce less bunches, generally four or five, resulting in more concentrated juice.
Once the grapes are in the cellar are destemmed and placed in open oak vats for the maceration with no temperature control, no added yeasts and no use of sulfur.
The duration of the maceration depends on the variety of the grape, it goes from the 8 days for Pinot Grigio till the 45 days for Cabernet Sauvignon. Grape skins must be always covered with wine: that’s why during all the fermentation the cap is pushed down manually 3-4 times a day.
The pressing is done softly using a pneumatic press, then the must passes in old wooden barrels and barriques that do not release more flavors.
Before the wines are bottled, stay for 6 months in stainless steel tanks for natural fining. During the bottling there is a small addition of sulfur (15 – 20 mg/l). The wines are bottled unfiltered and often show a brilliant orange color in the glass.
Davide Gentile and Marco Giuliani
We are Davide and Marco. We’ve been friends since 3 years old, and although we took different roads at times, we found each other again during college. Since then, we began our journey into the world of wine.
Our wines are made simply by spontaneously fermented grapes. We don’t add anything else, no clarifying agents or filtration. Residual lees and grape skins are indicators of a genuine and natural process, necessary to keep the wines alive.
We’re in a process of constant research, taking inspiration from many winemakers that we’ve met on our journey and with whom we continue to have a dialog about how to cultive, ferment, conserve and age wines. They are a source through which we synthesize our experience, which is in constant evolution.
As the son and great-grandson of winemakers, Stefano Menti has rediscovered the delicate touch and the joy that only comes from making natural wines on the family vineyard.
Someone once said that you can fight your own fate, but more often than not, it is a waste of time. The fate of Stefano Menti, who was born in 1979, was the vineyard planted by his great grandfather in the late 1800’s in Gambellara, the land of white volcanic mineral earth, Recioto and Vin Santo. However, Stefano, who at the age ten was already driving the tractor and helping his dad with the harvest, left home to travel around Europe, before his personal odyssey brought him back to the family vineyard in Gambellara, which is home to a mixture of Garganega, Torbiana and Durella vines. Not only did he come home, but he also chose to revolutionise the work done by his father by implementing organic and biodynamic practices.
In 1998, his journey takes him to Spain, with the sparkling lightness typical of new graduates, where he meets Katerina, a young lady from the Czech Republic and it’s as if a meteor collides with his fate. Stefano goes back in Gambellara, but lightning is lightning, and meteors are meteors and in the year 2000, he joins Katerina in Plzen, drowning out the call of the family vineyard by working for a mineral water company. Instead of making wine, he drinks it, choosing only organic and biodynamic wines, not to follow the fashion but out of respect for the environment.
However in 2002, he is called back home to Gambellara. Business is not going well, and Giovanni his father needs his son to help him run the vineyard, and being a loyal son, Stefano goes back home to help his father, putting the meteor on stand by.
The best advice that can be given for anyone who decides to work in the vineyard is to make a wine that does not follow trends but that has its own individual characteristics, its own personality. Why? Because the worst thing that can happen to you if you don’t sell it, is that you have to drink it, and at least it will be the wine that you chose to make, a wine that means something to you. Stefano began his new adventure with this ideology: no more of the conventional agriculture practices used by his father that hadn’t changed since the seventies, he went back, and returned to the methods used by his great grandfather.
He went back to basics and started studying: visiting organic and biodynamic wineries throughout Italy, and upon his return converted from a conventional to organic vineyard. “The wine starts from the fruit,” he explains, “It is essential that the fruit is as pure as possible”.
His hard work and dedication start to gain recognition and in 2004 the Menti winery is certified organic, which is followed ten years later by the biodynamic certification. His biggest satisfaction comes from the excitement of those who taste the wine, and the many phone calls he receives from people who want to compliment him, because Stefano’s skill and passion expresses itself in the wine itself. Giovanni, is proud of his son who successfully turns his ideas into a success.
Now, the Menti vineyard has seven hectares of vines, including the Omomorto vineyard where the Durella vine is grown, a vine that is perfect for sparkling wines.
As per tradition, towns give their names to the wine, the Omomorto Metodo Classico is the pride of the family, with the label on upside down because the bottle has to be stored with the neck facing down, so that the wine can immediately get rid of the foul-smelling yeast upon opening. A process that is usually done in the winery before a wine is put on the market, but in this case that Stefano wants done exactly the moment before you drink the wine, so that the wine can be enjoyed expressing the best of its unique characteristics.
In one way or another, fate wins and we discover that even meteors can change course. In doing so, one in particular lands in a vineyard in 2006, and since that fateful day, Katerina and Stefano live happily and contentedly on the family vineyard.
(WORDS BY ROBERTA CORRADIN)
Frank Cornelissen is the owner of 19 hectares of vines rather high up on Mount Etna. Uniquely, he has been involved in wine his entire life. As the son of a wine broker in Belgium, he had the opportunity to be immersed in wine on a professional level from a very young age. Frank went on to produce his first wine in 2001 when he started with only 0.40 hectares of vines.
Frank is obsessive over details in an effort to make wines that truly express terroir with perspective. He is a meticulous vineyard worker and keeps an extremely clean and organized cellar. The evolution in his wines are intriguing as well. Earlier vintages were linear, angular, precise, and full of minerality. He has often said that in the early days his goal was to create liquid stone. His wines have softened with time now striking balance between fruit and dynamic minerality.
While there are are many important details in his winemaking method, the key is in the vineyards. Frank is not Sicilian, so choosing Mount Etna was deliberate. The main reason to choose the North Valley of Etna was for its it’s incredible and unique diversity of volcanic soils that have an immutable voice. This in tandem with Etna’s primary varietal Nerello Mascalese, he believed he could make wines of great complexity and distiction. He has describes Nerello Mascalese to be somewhere between Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. Frank’s best wines have the dry and sharp tannins you find in great nebbiolo, but with the lusher fruits of Pinot Noir.
Frank works without the use of herbicides, pesticides, nor any other chemicals. He occasionally uses biodynamic treatments, but not in the ways outlined by biodynamic calendars as he feels his vineyards have their own unique schedule!
A few words by Frank himself…
“Our farming philosophy is based on our acceptance of the fact that man will never be able to understand nature’s full complexity and interactions. We therefore choose to concentrate on observing and learning the movements of Mother Earth in her various energetic and cosmic passages and prefer to follow her indications as to what to do, instead of deciding and imposing ourselves. Consequently this has taken us to avoiding all possible interventions on the land we cultivate, including any treatments, whether chemical, organic, or biodynamic, as these are all a mere reflection of the inability of man to accept nature as she is and will be. The divine ability to understand the ‘Whole’ was obviously not given to man as we are only a part of this complex and not God himself.”
In the winery his work follows the same philosophy of using what nature provides him. There are no industrial yeasts, sulfites, or anything else added to the wines. All of the wines are fermented in small, neutral tanks and no wood is used in the cellar in order for all the wines to express their specific territory to the full extent. Frank uses neutral epoxy tanks and anforas because he likes the round shape which allows the wines to be nourished with the fine lees moving freely during the aging process.
Marilina and Federica Paternò
Angelo Paternò worked for 25 years as the winemaker and technical director for the Sicilian wineries Cantine Settesoli and then Duca di Salaparuta and then bought 60 hectares (148 acres) on a hill formerly known as Poggio dei Fossi in the southeastern Sicilian province of Siracusa, near the town of Pachino, where he thought the land was one of the best viticulture areas in Sicily.
He handed the reins over to his daughters, Marilina and Federica, and still helps them in the cellar. They grow orcanically and favor strict minimal intervention and additives in the cellar, with an approach influenced by local natural winemaking master Frank Cornelissen. Almost half of the land is dedicated to polyculture in order to nurture the ecosystem. On the other 35 hectares grow a array of grape varieties such as Nero d’Avola, Grecanico, Muscat Blanc, Moscato Giallo, Insolia, Merlot, Tannat, Viognier, and Chardonnay. In the cellar, fruit and freshness are preserved with the use of large concrete tanks for fermentation and elevage.
Azienda Agricola Cirelli
Francesco and Michela Cirelli
Agricola Cirelli is an organic farm certified by IMC (doc. n.3194 RV.01), surrounded by 23 hectares of land. All of its production is designed to respect the natural cycles of the olive trees, vineyards, horticultural crops and the animal breeding. Crop rotation, natural fertilization, and free range animal grazing are Agricola Cirelli’s “techniques” of production. This harmonious environment creates olive oil, wine, vegetables, fruit and meats of supreme quality.
The farm grows its food and wine in total respect of organic agriculture. Nature sets the rules and it dictates the rhythm of every activity. The animals’ interaction with the land offer natural grazing and fertilization of the vines, which means there is no need to use harmful chemical substances.
Francesco purchased the land in 2003 right after his graduation in Economics at a prestigious European university. Before this, he was a student at the Italian Navy College. He decided to dedicate himself to organic agriculture because of the profound values of working the land (“Right after God the farmer comes next” he was told once). He is now helped out by his fiancée, Michela.
His favorite wine is his amphora-fermented wine, as they are truly artisanal containers. There is an obligation to only interact manually with the juice, using nothing other than your body. If you have to clean the vessel, you have to go inside it with your swim suit to clean the vessel. This makes for a more emotional process and requires more effort. It’s you and the clay vessel, that is all.
Azienda Agricola Serragghia
In a former life Gabrio Bini was an eccentric architect in Milan. Now, he’s a an eccentric winemaker in an eccentric place: the tiny volcanic island of Pantelleria. This rugged sliver of land, 15km long, population 7000, is closer to Tunisia than Sicily and is known more for its hot springs and capers than wine.
This is a fitting backdrop for Bini, who ferments 100% naturally with no sulphur and in buried clay amphorae.
He works with Pantellerian natives pignatello, catarratto, and zibibo, all of which see extended contact with their skins.
His wines are wild expressions of this wild place and tend to evolve dramatically in the glass.