Abruzzo has always been a wine region, so rich in tradition, history and products, whose variety can meet any palate.
Not long ago I was introduced to the world of naturally produced wines: this experience led me to reflect on the approach we have to wine, particularly which reasons drive us to drink one type rather than another. Quality is for sure the leading factor as we all appreciate good wines; frequently reputation and popularity push consumers to try products they would not normally consider; sometimes we eventually buy wines because of the story behind the label, because of that unconscious quid striking our imagination long before opening the bottle. This is exactly what happened with Suffonte Wines.
In 1982 Mr Ludovico, Lorenza’s father, planted his first vineyard, investing all his energies, spare time and salary as a teacher to grow it. That choice would prove to be prophetic, as if he knew that someone in the family would eventually share what was – by that time – only a dream in his mind. The vineyard, about 1 hectare located in Vittorito, a small village in the province of L’Aquila, is nestled in the Peligna Valley – also called Conca Peligna or Conca di Sulmona – a central plateau of Abruzzo known since ancient times for the production of wine. In fact its geo-morphological characteristics and climatic conditions make the area very similar to Chile wine districts. The Peligna Valley derives its name from the greek peline (from Greek pelagus) that means muddy, slimy.
In prehistoric times this area was occupied by a vast lake, as a result of earthquakes and floods, the rock barrier that blocked the passage to the sea – the Gorge of Popoli – collapsed and was eroded by the flow of two rivers, Aterno and Sagittarius, that together with Tirino form nowadays the Aterno-Pescara river. One of the best-known cities of the Peligna Valley is Sulmona, that according to popular legends was founded in 1180 BC by Solimo, a former inhabitant of Troy. The Peligna Valley has been home to the ancient people of Peligni, whereas Corfinium was the capital of the Italic League, an alliance of Italic peoples (Piceni, Vestini, Marruccini, Frentani, Marsi, Peligni, Samnites Pentri and Carecini), who in 91 BC eventually rebelled against Rome.
This territory, so steeped in history, is what Lorenza Ludovico aims to express through her wine. Like many young Abruzzesi, after graduating in L’Aquila she moved to northern Italy in search of opportunities, together with Simone Capula she co-founded Teatro a Canone , a small self-sustained theatre in Chivasso. 2009 marked the turning point in Lorenza’s life: the earthquake that devastated the area of L’Aquila, including some properties of hers, the beginning of global economic crisis, the drastic cutting of government resources to theaters and culture, the distance from her homeland, forced Lorenza to drive home more often, to help her family with grapes and olive harvest. It took her two years to fully realize that hers was actually a human journey and that her life was about to change forever. In 2011 she finally returned to Abruzzo to cultivate her father’s land, the following year her first harvest and wines came to light.
Working as a stage actress, Lorenza always questioned herself what do you want to convey to your audience? Undoubtedly, doing theater meant to her to convey a message of humanity, a different vision of life and a new approach to work, enhancing men’s experience of the world and generating inner well-being rather than deprivation.
“Theater is doing things in a proactive context that inspires and supports me. I am what I am thanks to others, I can count on a group that is always by my side”
Hence the inspiration to produce natural wines , flowing out of an intimate relationship between producer and grapes, wherein knowledge, mutual respect, slow operations and patient waiting enhance wine until it is ready for sipping. To produce natural wines, vines are cultivated with love and little human intervention, the harvest is done by hand, no pasteurization, filtration or chemical adds-on, wine is the genuine result of spontaneous fermentation and wise vinification tradition. Lorenza only owns an hectare of land, her annual production is about 10.000 bottles, therefore she can take care of her clients and establish durable relationships based on trust and mutual cooperation, thus ensuring the quality of her wine from growing to bottling.
“People know Lorenza before the wine, they do not simply buy a product but the producer. That is the intrinsic and intangible value, an invisible thread between producers and buyers. When I pour wine I not only run a business, I tell the story of my land and the territory from which that wine is produced. This is the real enrichment in marketing a product “
What does making a natural wine means? Lorenza firmly answers:
“Natural is a wine handled as little as possible, however, since regulations are yet to come, a wine cannot be declared natural if the winemaker is not natural. The only possible certification so far is direct knowledge of the producer”.
Lorenza’s wines are Suffonte Rosato and Suffonte Montepulciano DOC, two brilliant and widely known types whose names recall the water springs in Vittorito. These wines are both produced from Montepulciano grapes, though vinification techniques are different, while labels are red for Rosato (Cerasuolo) and black for Montepulciano to pay a tribute to tradition: in fact in the Peligna Valley Cerasuolo was known as the red because of its pinkish elegant color, whereas Montepulciano has always been called the black for his deep red almost purplish nuance, symbolizing the peasants’ strength and tenacity in producing such a powerful and significant beverage.
“La terra è generosa con chi sa trattarla a mani nude, pelle a pelle. Coltura è cultura, un’arte antica del fare. Lavoro è insieme sussistenza e resistenza, arte altrettanto antica di scegliere da che parte stare. Compagna è la campagna”
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