Cantina roeno enantio Terradeiforti DOC – SUSTAINABLE
A lot happened in 1865.
- The American civil war ended.
- Schubert’s “Unfinished” symphony premiered.
- President Lincoln attended a fateful play.
- Roeno’s vineyard was planted with the red Enantio grape.
This vineyard survived so long for two reasons – first, because its sandy, granitic soils (right) are like shards of glass for the root louse, phylloxera, which devastated European vineyards without mercy in the late 1800s. And second, because the Fugatti family, the vineyard’s current owners, stubbornly inisist on keeping this impractical but historic vineyard despite pressures to replace it with a more lucrative variety and trellising system (more on this in a paragraph or two).
Unlike most grapevines in Europe, these vines never needed grafting onto phylloxera-resistent root stock from America. They are now one of the last sources for the rare and nearly extinct Enantio grape that was once the flagship red wine of the Val d’Adige region. I feel confident in saying that Roeno’s Enantio is likely the only way you’ll ever taste this piece of old Italy.
The vineyard is located a stone’s throw from the Adige river, on the Veneto side but with Trentino visible just across the river. Steep mountains rise on both sides, and for thousands of years this river and its valley served as the highway for traffic to and from Austria/Germany and beyond.
Contemporary visitors stand in the valley and look up at the ancient fortifications on both sides – the area’s not called “Terradeiforti” (land of the forts) for nothing! These forts gave the locals great advantage over mauraders entering by the river Adige or the narrow roads that developed on the valley floor.
This impractically narrow highway (one lane in each direction with LOTS of truck traffic) remains a critical transportation route between Italy and Northern Europe. But my written description can’t convey the feeling of this place as well as this 15 seconds of beautiful drone footage you can watch on the Roeno website
AN IMPRACTICAL VINEYARD
One of the primary reasons I like buying wine from family growers and producers is because they make decisions with input from more than just the accounting department. If the Fugatti family wanted Roeno to maximize profits, they’d have abandoned their Enantio vineyard long ago.
The vineyard was planted in a style that requires a huge amount of space. It is unquestionably ‘inefficient’ by today’s standards. There is literally no good reason to farm this land except for its historic significance. Which is a really good reason in my book.
As you see here (right), the rows of vines are spaced 15 feet apart with each vine trained to grow out towards the center of the row where Giuseppe (Roeno’s U.S. importer) is standing. This growth is guided by those sturdy vertical concrete supports and their angled arms (seen here just behind Giuseppe’s right hand) held in place by thick wire cables (foreground).
The photo at right was taken during our “Wine Lovers Winery Tour” in March 2023, when the vines were dormant. By summer, the vines appear as shown in the photo at left.
Though clearly ‘inefficient’, the vineyard is like a time capsule, providing us with a small peek into the wines of the 19th century, when Enantio reigned supreme among red grapes in this region.
Buy a bottle (under $30 at the time of this posting), raise a glass and join me in thanking the Fugatti family for preserving the experience for us to enjoy.