In San Biagio, in Liguria, several historical vineyards are hard to cultivate: a woman who used to be passionate about architecture, yet couldn’t say no to her land, now deals with them
The term heroic viticulture refers to a difficult but extremely valid cultivation. According to the CERVIM (Research Centre for Mountain Viticulture), the necessary criteria to acquire this definition are: more than 30% slope of the land; it must be higher than 500 meters above sea level; a wine system that develops on terraces; located on small islands.
In Liguria, precisely in the area of San Biagio in the province of Imperia, stands the Maccario Dringerberg, a winery entangled among alleys and stairs, where vehicles struggle to pass through. Giovanna Maccario, producer and “hero“, will tell us about her passion for this job.
Giovanna, you studied architecture and then opted for the vineyard. Why?
“I was born among the vineyards: my father was a winemaker for generations. Architecture was a passion of mine: the common thread was the transformation or creation of something aesthetically beautiful through the rigid schemes of technological and scientific feasibility “.
The quotas for women in wine production are increasing: what do you think?
“I consider them a ghettoization of women, the classic male consolation prize. I am proudly feminist and I think there is no gender difference. I always let the final product speak for itself”.
Is wine production in Liguria a miracle?
“Many of the vineyards I inherited are historical: they are on average 70 years old with steep slopes above 40%, some with secular parts. This is my normality. In order to give its best, the Rossese needs a piece of land with a thin skeleton rich in stones. The terraces are strongly man-made: by realizing them, men have taken fleeting strips of land from the nature onto the rock”.
How hard is it to bring out a product like this in such a rough territory?
“It’s not possible to mechanize the work on terraced vineyards with steep slopes, so there is a strong incidence of manpower. When I joined the company, after my father’s death in 1991, we decided to practice non-cultivation: we no longer work the land and prefer to leave it covered with grass, mechanically using small manual brush cutters in the spring. We don’t use glyphosate or synthetic products, we prefer copper and sulphur powder “.
Are weather conditions favourable for you?
“The climate of the Riviera is splendid: the dry heat discourages the mildew, the wind prevents the stagnation of humidity and therefore the rot. The careful selection of rootstocks (mainly Rupestris du Lot and Golia) allowed the vines to withstand drought periods very well. All this must be combined with the great Ligurian stubbornness that allows us to go on under extreme and unthinkable conditions”.