8 Generations of wine making. It's all in the family.
Chances are, if you'd passed through the Valle Peligna between the burghs of Vittorito and Corfinio, Abruzzo, Italy in 1791, one of Alice or Roberta Pietrantonj’s relatives would have offered a satisfying cup of red wine in welcome. After all, Abruzzo is the birthplace of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grape varietal and, ‘a bottle of wine begs to be shared.’ The still-working cantina is a living museum. Artifacts collected over the span of two hundred years are everywhere. Enormous wooden wine presses the size of city busses, rows of hand-hewn oak barrels that stand 15 feet tall, and cobbled floors with slanting troughs over which enormous quantities of grape juice has flowed are still visible. Hand-scratched markings, nearly one hundred years old, line the rock walls like cave drawings, evidence of pickers documenting loves lost and found, friendships formed, and the quotidian experience of the annual harvest. The most magnificent, creative and spiritually vibrant innovations are two enormous vats built in 1893. Together, these vats hold 1402 hectolitres of wine. Astonishingly, one is lined with thousands of individual Murano glass tiles, resulting in an architecturally beautiful, pristinely crafted chamber. We are treated to a tasting in a room lined floor to ceiling with dark wood cupboards standing on square terracotta tiles. We sip, we nibble, we chat. Some eight generations later, and Alice and Roberta offer similar warmth and hospitality on my visit to their family winery.