Thursday, August 03, 2006

STAFFOLO: In the heart of white wine country

WHEN WE ARRIVED at the home of Sandro Finocchi, which also happens to be the family vineyard, his 86-year old father was sitting on the porch.

It was a hot summer day and the old man welcomed us, despite our not having an appointment. He immediately began talking to us, in Italian, of course.

Soon enough, he gave up trying to communicate with us and he called for his son, the operator of the winery.

Sandro walked us around the 8 hectare property in the heart of Verdicchio country and he talked about the production of his wine. His two daughters, Elena, 16, and Chiara, 11, run the bottling machine and they label the wine by hand. They joined us on our brief tour.

"I live upstairs, I work here," Sandro said with a laugh. "I don't leave too much!"

The small operation produces about 40,000 bottles per year, with much of the wine going to restaurants in Rome.

In the fermentation room, Sandro cleaned a few glasses and then poured white wine for us, straight from the cold steel tanks. It was fantastic.

After an hour or so, Sandro invited us to see the wine shop he is building nearby in the ancient city of Staffolo. The shop is a labryinth of rooms and walkways that are built right into the old castle walls. He showed us tunnels that lead to other people's homes and shops.

Deeper in the city is a museum dedicated to the Verdicchio wine that is produced nearly everywhere here.

- G. Miller


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