Ampeleia: a lesson in life
What drives a winemaker with an established winery/wines to start a project in a totally new place?
A passion for one’s own work and the wish to undertake the challenge of working in another land and to discover its soul and expression. My work in Ampeleia has been a lesson in life, in the relationship with other people and in dealing with a natural environment that is so different from my homeland.
What made you choose a wild place like Roccatederighi? Why didn't you go to a more 'popular' area like Bolgheri, for example?
Roccatederighi has an energy that is different from that of many other places, it is a wild and unspoilt place both for its environment and for its people – Roccatederighi is a borderland between the sea and the mountains. These places are a mirror of what the most authentic Maremma is made of: hamlets built on high ground far from the inhospitable plains below, places where farming was practised with wisdom, making the most of different altitude levels to farm all sorts of crops from wheat to grapes, from olives to vegetables. In this unspoilt land, it is still possible to practise a model of farming that is complete and rich in biodiversity.
What was the greatest challenge in starting Ampeleia?
To meet two friends that held a passion for life and simple living and bring them together in this unexplored and generous land.
When deciding on the style of Ampeleia wine, what was first - abstract idea or existing conditions of the place?
Meleta was a pre-existing wine-producing farm in Roccatederighi and was purchased in 2002. The wines of Meleta had struck me for their character, their texture and elegance; they were a strong expression of this land. After long walks among the vineyards and fields around the farm, I understood that this place could produce a wine expressing its beauty and diversity. Thus, Ampeleia came to be.
What were the most satisfying and frustrating moments since the start of Ampeleia?
The best moments are today: Ampeleia is expressed in its purity through biodynamic practises and 10 years of work that have led me to a deep understanding of each vineyard’s potential. The wines are the voice of the earth that bears them, the vines thank the men that have farmed them and give them fruits permeated with vital energy. The hardest time: to make people near me understand that the direction we had undertaken was the right one.
In Ampeleia, have you fulfilled your initial dreams?
Yes, and I realise that Ampeleia can still express much more, not only through its wines but also through a complete and self-sufficient farming organism.
If you could compare Ampeleia wine to a person, how would you describe it?
A feminine one expressing patience, understanding, generosity and warmth.
What's the most fascinating thing about the area of Roccatederighi / that part of Maremma?
The nature’s richness, which is infinitely diverse, the light and weather that are charged with unexpected contrasts. There is nothing to be taken for granted or that is repetitive, everything is permeated with essentiality and change, an unpredictable and rich encounter with life and nature.
Anything else that you think is important to tell about Ampeleia.
Ampeleia is made of earth and men, a coming together of different people who truly wanted its existence and thus established it. Through constant questioning and action, a farming experience is taking shape that can be the expression of a possible farming method in contrast to the regrettable gradual abandonment of these lands. Ampeleia also strives to be a symbol of hope – the hope that can lead young people to devote their lives to farming their own land.