IN THE WINERY IN THE VINEYARDS
 
 
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Welcome to our site! For me your click on this page is like the doorbell ringing when we have visitors at home so, dear guests, welcome!

I’d like to take the time to tell you a little about us so that you can get to know Terre di Leone a little better.

The first time I ever came to the Valpolicella was back in 1990.
 


It was late spring, almost summer in fact, when Federico asked me if I’d like to meet his grandfather Leone see the place he called “home”. He’d already been introduced to my grandmother Teresa, a colourful character, and I’d taken him to my home so it felt right for me to get to know some of his world. It may seem almost ridiculous to talk about a ‘world’ but for a person who came from a completely different background where tractors, grapes and cherries were something you only saw in books, it really was a different world!
At the traffic light in San Floriano we turned left and started winding our way up the valley.. gosh.. I remember just how I felt at that moment. After the picturesque village of Valgatara, stunning and intensely colourful countryside opened up before my eyes. I could see the dark green, almost silver, of the olive trees dotted amongst the vines which were in full blossom. Even stronger colours shone from the woods made up of oak, beech and cypress trees which covered the tops of the hills all around us. Then there were the cherry trees with their impalpable red and pink balls and the wild hazelnut trees, not forgetting the plum trees.. Let’s just say it was a blaze of colour and beauty.

 
 

We arrived in Marano, a well spread out village which covers almost the whole of the valley to which it gives its name. Marano is made up of many hamlets, charming little villages strung out along the road which runs the length of the valley.
I felt like I was in another time. The uniqueness of the setting made it almost feel like we were in a film. We carried on past the centre of the village and starting making our way even further up the valley. After the first bends, we arrived at the Cotto vineyards.. and there was Grandfather
Leone.

 He greeted us with a wide smile and I instantly sensed just what a gentle and sweet character he was.
 
 

He was slightly built, exactly the opposite to how I had imagined him! He reminded me of a old vine with that look that only time can give. Life had marked him making him almost wood-like and contorted, just like the vines in the surrounding vineyards. He was friendly, bright and full of life. I saw him arrive with courgettes (or perhaps they were cucumbers?) from his vegetable patch which he had planted on one of the areas of terraced land close to his home. I was introduced to the cow, goat and hens, each one had a name. As we entered the house, in the kitchen there was a fireplace so big that felt like it filled up the entire room. The embers were still glowing, giving off a distant warmth and the smell of minestrone filled the air, I could even smell it from outside. I fell in love with him immediately, watching him and listening to him tell his stories. I almost felt jealous of the special relationship which Federico had with him. They were very close. I understood how his passion for working the land could be passed down. It’s the heritage of a person who has sought to understand, manipulate and dominate nature over a lifetime.
He told us about the trouble he encountered when buying his tractor from “far away Trentino”. Perhaps it was trouble back in those days, after all, we’re talking about just after the war, it was me who hadn’t understood that!
Even today Federico still uses that tractor in the vineyards. It’s our  way of remembering Leone, and of keeping him happy!

How could I not respect and be enraptured by the life-story of this man who was so bound to this land? Differently to Federico who had been part of this land all his life, I got to know about the land of Marano through Leone and his stories.
After we got married we had a choice to make and it wasn’t at all difficult. Of course, the Valpolicella Classico area, a territory which has been promoted around the world by the historic producers in this area, didn’t really need another winery but every time we came here, harvesting the fruit, working the land, it was hard to deny what our hearts were telling us. Everyone interprets their craft in their own way, speaking in their own voice. We wanted to do something in our own way, with our own voice and we started to believe there was room for us too to start making wine.


Leone taught us the importance of patience. The first time I saw hail it scared me. Back at my house it only risked damaging the flowers, here it risked destroying everything... Leone told me it could happen, that it was part of nature and that when faced with hail you have to just be patient. Time and man, if managed well, can help nature and everything will work out. Even if it doesn’t work out, you just have to be patient!!!

Once I understood what he wanted us to learn, - everything behind the technical side of how to look after the vineyards and how to make wine, of how passion transforms into a desire to do something regardless of how immense and improbable it may seem - we felt like we could do it, that there was space for our voice to join the Valpolicella Classico chorus.

The four hands in our project became six as oenologist Roberto joined the team. We had been friends for years and he had quietly and discreetly helped us from the sidelines but now it was time for him to have a different role in Terre di Leone. He was the one who really threw wood on the fire let’s say, and ideas which were first put down on paper started taking form in Terre di Leone.
How many long nights did we spend studying books and creating the winery project! And how many questions did we ask those kind people who gave us the opportunity to learn everything we needed for us to understand what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it.


These people will always be with us as they helped us through the most difficult part of the project by having the patience to listen to us and by giving a part of themselves to our project. It wasn’t easy to get a result as we had to do all of this whilst carrying on with daily life. They were very intense years full of enthusiasm and years we look back on with fond memories. One of the first people to believe in us, after Roberto, was Clemente, Roberto’s father. Along with a few others, he never let us feel like we were on our own. We started by sorting out the vineyards and rebuilding the dry stone walls (known locally as marogne). We then replanted the vineyards using the Guyot system which was quite an innovative step in the Valpolicella where the Pergola Veronese was the traditional pruning system. We believe that the Guyot system coupled with the precise conditions that we have in Marano  (in terms of soil, sun exposure, vine density and layout) gives fruit of very high quality through drastically reducing the quantities of grapes produced.

A couple of years later, we started constructing the winery building. We wanted to make a winery which used gravity throughout the wine-making process in order to reduce the stress which the many processes put on the grapes and wine. It’s a way of making wine in the traditional way, naturally!
We also wanted to have a well defined style. We wanted quality not just in the vineyards but also in the winery and we wanted to respect the traditional ways of producing wines but adapt them to cutting edge technology without compromising the careful and arduous work we carry out in the vineyards. Technology is necessary but it should be managed in a way so that it gently leads wine through the wine-making process rather than forcing it. After all, wine is made in the vineyard, it’s a product of the land, and so we need to think about the finished product already during the harvest.


 
 

So this is the story of how we started. It was the passion for this beautiful area coupled with a respect for the wine-production traditions and our desire to be part of the bigger picture. We wanted to be able to speak to the world with our own voice about this valley. We are what you may call interpreters of this area. Our aim is that our wines spark curiosity in whoever comes across them and that they then feel the need to discover this terroir and everything in it. At the end of the day, a wine producer is nothing but a story teller, and just like the others, we just want to tell you our story and for you to be enchanted by the splendid land of Marano.

Thank you for your time,
Chiara


 
 
Terre di Leone s.r.l. - Marano di Valpolicella (Verona) - Tel. 0039 045 6895040 - Fax 0039 045 6801949
R.E.A. 332292 - P. Iva e C.F. 03389260237 - info@terredileone.it