A few weeks ago, our Colorado friends, visiting with us in Lucca, Italy, suggested a wine tasting at a vineyard close by. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, given that tasting the wine was to be in the context of a meal, and remember we are in Italy where food for pranzo(lunch, often the main meal) can be more than abundant.
However, duh! Food is the best accompaniment to wine, certainly here, and probably in most places. We were at the Tenuta di Valgiano, with Laura di Collobiano, proprietaria(owner), and she took us on a tour of the vineyard for starters. There was the food, the wine, and the information that came to us with ease and with passion.
The lunch within a setting that is nothing less than glorious was crucial to the whole experience. Learning about the land, and the wine was enriched by the setting of Valgiano, and of course the tasting of a number of wines, according (not unimportant) to our preferences as we went along. Without the setting, and without the food that was prepared and delivered graciously, and the dining in which Laura also shared, the experience would have lacked completeness.
Laura “had me” at two expressions; actually it was more than that. One was the title of this piece, that “wine is the liquid expression of the landscape”. The second— equally as important—was, “It’s not money that makes good wine. Wine is the project of a lifetime.” Laura spoke about how people want things fast, for results to be immediate.
In addition, Laura spoke about the use of pesticides. She and others in the same field of biodynamic farming, see themselves not as “fighters of disease but as creators of health” (another expression). It was fascinating to hear how it can be practical to be healthy, practical to cooperate with other farmers and makers of wine in an atmosphere where people are glad for the variety of products, realizing that no one person or azienda can do or make everything. And it turns out the 70% of agriculture in Lucca is in fact biodynamic, encouraging also.
So: let me share a bit of what I learned. This information came in more than one sitting, since were able to talk over a caffe’ together some days after our first adventure. Laura tells me how monoculture, growing one thing on lots of land, can be toxic for growth. Insects that harm the produce don’t tend to replicate in the midst of biodiversity. Fascinating, I think.