One of the many things I love about Italy is that there are so many local vineyards with microclimates that make the wines so unique. Cantina del Vesuvio is a perfect underscore of this point. The winery and vineyards are standing in the shadows of the slopes of the volcanic Mount Vesuvius.
In 1948, at the end of World War II, Giovanni Russo founded his small winery. This was a time when wine was transported by horse-drawn wagon to larger merchants, who supplied the larger shops and city restaurants. Today, Giovanni’s youngest son, Maurizio, runs the winery and keeps his family legacy alive. It was Maurizo who opened the winery to the public 18 years ago and added a wonderful place where you could stop for lunch, but more about that later.
We walked through the volcanic soils of Cantina del Vesuvio and saw the organic farming and production methods. There are 16 hectares of vineyard, 12 owned and 3 leased. The wines are made from Caprettone, Piedirosso, Aglianico, and Falanghina grapes.
Roses are often used in organic vineyards to gauge the health of the grapes
A cloudy day, but you can see Mount Vesuvius on the horizon
This region is considered the Lacryma Christi D.O.C., which are grapes indigenous to the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, and has been produced since Ancient Roman times. These vines descend from the Aminei of Thessaly, brought to Italy from ancient Greece in the 5th century BC and require no irrigation. Caprettone grapes are used for Lacryma Christi Bianco and Piedirosso grapes are used for Lacryma Christi Rosato and Rosso.
Our fabulous winery ambassador
Our knowledgeable guide told us that the name Lacryma Christi has its roots in a number of legends, the most repeated of which is that of Lucifer, who took with him a piece of heaven when he was cast out. When Christ saw Italy’s Gulf of Naples, he recognized it as this stolen piece and wept over the loss; it is said that vines of Lacryma Christi sprang miraculously from the earth where his tears fell.
After touring the winery, we settled down for a lovely multi-course lunch where we had the chance to try the wines (some not all are pictured here) and the fresh products made directly at the winery and on local farms. We marveled at how fresh, delicious and simple tomatoes and pasta could be and that lunch looking over the vineyard and drinking great wine with the man I love remains another memorable moment in our Italy trip.