Garfagnana, amidst the Apennines of Tuscay and Emilia. Here they tell the story of challenges and a passion for vineyards and wine. The protagonist is Gabriele Da Prato, owner of Podere Concòri.
Gabriele produces wine, but not only… He produces the culture of wine: and this is the precise focal point that our interview began with.
Gabriele, how does the culture of wine and the vineyard express itself in your business?
«Above from the calling of the territory. The Tuscan-Emilian Apennines area zone with a microclimate characterised by an extreme range of temperatures. Producing wines in this territory was difficult, but this was the challenge. When I began here, at the end of the 1990s, I wanted to succeed in producing quality wines, through a biodynamic approach that would express the characteristics of the fertility of this land, without standardization. And for me quality means a balance of acidity, freshness, drinkability and elegance.»
Tell us about the beginnings…
«The company covers four hectares with five vineyards. The project was born upon my return from Burgundy: I already has a clear idea of what to plant. In the lower part of the vineyards we found very sandy terrain, so soil that was richer in silica, perhaps better suited to cultivating legumes, but difficult for grapevines. This is where we obtain wines with a higher alcohol content. In the westernmost part, the land was rocky, suitable for more ‘complex’ wines, so wines that are finer and more elegant.»
What difficulties did you find and what satisfactions?
«As I said, we were dealing with a difficult territory, an impervious and rainy area. Over the past 15 years, in the province of Lucca, we have had seasonal monsoons: abundant rain, sun, and rain again. Biodynamic agriculture (commonly found in Tuscany, ndr) made it possible for me to work in symbiosis with the lands and its transformations, seeking to accept it more easily. But then there was another problem…»
«The wine culture of this territory is focussed more on quantity than on quality. We were counting on the legacy of a farming tradition without opening up to more ambitious projects. However, there were also satisfactions.»
Let’s talk about those…
«I as lucky enough to meet the great Luigi Veronelli, who for me was a guiding star. He urged me to believe in myself. When it comes to satisfactions, in addition to the acknowledgements of wine critics, I think of those from the public. I think about the people that I still meet in restaurants and bars who like my Melograno wine.»
So tell us about your Melograno wine.
«It all started with a walk amidst the vineyards with Veronelli. Nearby there are two pomegranate plants that have been there for at least a century. We were there in late autumn, when the fruit has a fantastic colour. We immediately though of the name Melograno – or Pomegranate – that conveys a sense of optimism. The wine is a Syrah blend with old grape varieties, planted by my great-grandfather, my grandfather, and my father. It is a wine that goes well with soups, pasta, and stews.
Who are the connoisseurs of the wine from your Podere?
«They are the taverns and those establishments that can still allow themselves the luxury of opening a bottle of wine for the sake of conviviality. It’s lovely to be able to talk about wine, face to face.»
In conclusion, why does the history of your wine and your company have evolved only in Garfagnana?
«Thanks for asking that question. Because for four generations my family ran a tavern, frequented in the past even by the poet Giovanni Pascoli. Food, wine, and conviviality are still the pillars of this story.»