Donatella Martincigh is Grappolo d’Oro’s chief wine maker, a position usually held by a man. She transformed the family’s 20-hectare farm into a successful winery and has been making beautiful Italian craft wine for nearly 30 years.
The vineyard’s Alpine terraces are perfect for ripening grapes – capturing sun from the south-west, naturally protected from cold northerly winds by the Alps and exposed to a mild ocean breeze from the Adriatic.
If you haven’t visited Italy before, the Fruili region is a must. This beautiful area is littered with landscapes, from the sea to hills and mountains – all boasting excellent cuisine and fine wine.
It’s no wonder, when you consider that Donatella’s love and passion for wine stretches all the way back to her childhood. Her mom used to put a little drink of red wine in her bottle and she’s since become a true expert with an adept palate. Now a fully graduated sommelier, no less, she prefers to call herself a winemaker.
You can see why? Her talents and passion become obvious when you taste any of the three wines of hers that we stock: a sublime Sauvignon, fresh Pinot Grigio and outstanding Refosco.
‘I have worked for other cellars in Italy,’ she says. ‘But my real experience comes from making our wines with our own hands year in, year out. Each harvest is different and each year is a challenge.’
And it’s a challenge she rises to with ease. Here’s to your good health, Donatella.
Franco Roero is a fourth generation winemaker, who produces 100,000 litres of beautiful Barbera DOC Piemonte each year from 15 hectares of vines.
A straight-talking, no-nonsense type of guy, Franco was actually born in Turin. This calamity happened when his father had an early mid-life crisis, left the wine business and went to work for Fiat.
Soon realising the error of his ways, he returned home to Zucchetto in the Piemonte region a couple of years later, where the family has remained ever since.
A passionate control freak, Franco oversees every aspect of his winemaking. From trimming the vines, to fermentation, production, packaging and sales.
Azienda Agricola Franco Roero winery sits beside the beautiful rustic house that Franco shares with his lovely wife, parents and obligatory winery pooch. Set on top of a beautiful hill – with vines as far down as the eye can see – their son who is currently studying agrarian economics at the University of Turin is set to come back and join Franco to become the fifth generation winemaker in the year or two.
When he’s not busy making utterly submit Barbera DOC Piemonte wine, you’ll find Franco checking out the competition – who rarely come close – going for a run in the surrounding lanes or cheering on Juventus with a glass or two of Asti.
Often referred to as ‘the new Tuscany’, Le Marche wine region sits snugly between the Apennine Mountains and Adriatic Sea in North East Italy.
Based inland from Ancona, Federico Mencaroni is a fourth-generation winemaker who was taught everything he knows by his dear uncle, Nevio Mencaroni, who overcame a wealth of rising pressures from globalisation to preserve this small but beautifully formed vineyard in one of Italy’s most undiscovered wine regions.
Cantina Mencaroni – at just six hectares – is small by modern standards. But, when you consider the entire Le Marche region has only 20,000 hectares of vineyards, six will do nicely thanks!
Every single drop of wine made here is crafted from four lifetimes of wisdom and steeped in good old-fashioned Italian passion and pride.
Federico and his pickers harvest the grapes carefully by hand, lay them gently into picking bins for grading and many months later, once the wine-making process is complete, they box the wine on site and send it to us by train.
‘I’m just a steward of knowledge, passed down from generation to generation,’ says Federico. ‘Each year the grapes are unique and different, and we constantly need to adjust our techniques.
‘And now you have the delight of enjoying it all.’