Last Christmas, 2017, we were in Italy visiting my son, Sam, who was studying in Bologna. We rented a house big enough for all of us, in a little town called Zocca, just 45 minutes outside Bologna. Most houses in the area have small vineyards in a side yard. Many small restaurants served wine made just minutes away. We ate and drank (my peasant palate loved the Lambruscos); Mac and Alis collected clay on the property and made us all beautiful beads and small bowls glazed with grape juice for Christmas.
And there were outings—to Venice; to Florence. One day, we piled in the car and went to La Stoppa, an organic vineyard growing local grapes—Barbera, Bonarda and Malvasia—on an historic estate in the province of Piacenza in the Emilia region of Italy. There are 32 hectares of vines, along with almost as much forest, plus the ruins of a medieval tower. The vineyard is owned by Elena Pantaleoni, super-cool, understated, vigneronne and winemaker with a vision that extends beyond her own land. She told us that she wants to elevate the profile of the region, (beyond Lambrusco, gulp) to serious, biodynamic wines that express the terroir of the region.
I thought of Vermont. How we are known mostly for sweet wines, beloved by many, but not the true expression of the soil, the climate, the culture of the region.