Grandfather Orlando planted a small vineyard for family consumption in 1930 in Arola, more precisely in a place called “Groppone” (so called for the enormous slope of the land). My grandfather had many varieties of grapes grafted by his brother-in-law Oreste Cavalli. They were the most diverse ones: from the most famous such as Barbera, Bonarda, Sangiovese, Lambrusco Maestri and Grasparossa, Malvasia Aromatica di Candia, Sauvignon and Moscato Giallo, to the now disappeared ones as Uva Rara, Terra Promessa and others of which we know only the dialect term, for example “al Besmén”.
This denotes my grandfather’s great passion towards viticulture and the Vine, even if he pressed all the different grapes together, only keeping the white grapes separated from the red ones. His personal “experimentation” of growing different grape varieties (using modern terminology we would say “zoning”) has proved very important to me today in chosing rootstocks and cultivars to create new vineyards.
At that time the vineyard represented a very important part in the family economy as it allowed to drink wine every day: this was fundamental in the calories intake in the diet of those times. Today wine is considered by many to be only a pleasure (I also consider it a food), but years ago it was essential to compensate for food shortages.
My father Antonio, Orlando’s only son, took another path: after completing his studies at the boarding school Osservanza in Bologna, he became an employee at the accounting center of Banca Commerciale Italiana in Parma. Despite his career, he kept cultivating the “Groppone” vineyard together with his grandfather Orlando until 1964 – year in which this latter died – and then alone.
My father was in love with nature and especially with the Vine. I must say that he had been able to pass this love down to me in full.
From him I learned to consider the Vine as a living being, with whom to dialogue, each with its own individuality. It is essential to be able to guess and evaluate if the vine needs anything, especially during pruning, in order to be able to help the vines in difficulty and “support” those in full vigor in the best way.
The Vine is a very generous plant which survives the many pains caused by an “inattentive” winemaker or an hostile season. But if you listen to it and treat it well, with deep respect and with a lot of love, it can feel it and will bountifully repay you. Just as I learnt to take care of the Vine from my father, so I acquired “the art” of the vintner from Ovidio (class 1923) – one of my father’s friends and now a great friend of mine – as my father preferred spending his time in the vineyard, in the open air, rather than in the cellar.
Ovidio taught me to take my first steps in vinifying, handing down to me his enormous technical background and his “pearls of wisdom”, these latter being the result of a very long experience and a sharp intelligence.
With great humility and in small steps, I always try to hand such wisdom over to my wines, hoping that its essence will be grasped. And if this is possible, I owe it to Providence and to my family – my mother Rosetta, my parents-in-law Gabriella and Francesco, my wife Francesca, my sister Cristina, my brothers-in-law Moreno and Davide as well as my nieces Morena and Monia (Monia regularly works with me) – which has always supported, encouraged, tolerated and helped me, even physically, while doing other jobs, sacrificing themselves lovingly and for free!
Moreover, on my way as a winemaker, I met two wonderful people, two true gifts of Providence, whose names are Luigi and Ruggero: two great Friends always ready to lend a hand with such humility, ability and extreme availability. In my heart, they are also part of our family.
In addition, today there is also Camilla, Ginevra and Mattia helping us continue on this wonderful “path”.
This is my small and humble but heartfelt thanks to God and to all my family.
Our fathers’ hands have left a single secret in our hands:
nature needs time.