100% Grape, That’s It
With the natural wine scene growing extensively in recent years, Total Management ‘s passionate wine expert Elena Panagia learns the story of small natural and organic wine label Lammidia and speaks with its founders about how they went about setting up their business with no prior experience of production.
One of my earliest childhood memories really was of making wine. I was born in Tuscany to a family of wine producers which has been actively making wine for generations; for us making wine has always been a tradition. Every year, around the second half of September up until the first two weeks of October, which in Italian is known as la vendemmia, when the grape is at its most ripe, we start our wine making process. To this day, in my family it is only my grandparents who are in the position to confirm when this actually is. Over the course of four weeks, every weekend me and my family, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins included, come together at our home in the Tuscan countryside. This ritual also extends to family friends; everyone is invited to take part.
You might ask how the process works of course. Well, it is actually quite simple. It takes care and attention and some willing participants. The dress code for grape pickers: wellington boots and a tracksuit. Days are usually long but beautiful, the sun is still warm and we work until it sets. While we are sectioned off in groups among the vines, my grandfather directing our movements as we go, we begin to slowly and carefully pick the grapes which are collected in large red plastic boxes. The large boxes of grapes are transported back to the wine cellar by tractor where they are crushed down manually using materials and machines which have been used by my family for hundreds of years. La vendemmia comes and goes from year to year; a ritual tied up with singing, chatting and picnicking so it is quite a special moment together as a family. Over the course of the last 50 years my grandfather has lovingly cared and caressed these acres of vineyards that spread across the hills around his house.
Our aim: to get everyone happy and drunk in the healthiest way possible
His passion for his vineyards has allowed him to produce a high quality wine which is well liked by many, above all those interested in the production process of organic and natural wines, since his wine really is made of 100% grape and nothing else. My grandfather’s philosophy has always been to produce an organic handmade wine which goes well with food but not one for retail. This kind of care and attention can only reach loved ones after all.
Living the Dream
What started out as a bit of a hobby and indeed a similar love for wine as demonstrated by my own grandfather was pretty much where things began for Davide Gentile and Marco Giuliani who set up Lammidia in 2010. Childhood friends from Pescara on Italy’s east coast, their story began through a mutual love for wine and wine tasting, over the years visiting a number of tasting events, fares and natural wineries across Italy, Spain and France before deciding to go from being passionate consumers to full scale natural wine producers.
The turning point happened in the summer of 2010; Marco had a full time job in Pescara whilst Davide was fully immersed in the world of marketing in Milan with dreams of one day moving to London or New York. However, their day jobs were short lived, with both of them asking themselves whether their current reality really was what they wanted in life. Deciding it wasn’t and it was worth taking a mad leap in the dark, they left their respective positions to regroup in Pescara some months later, their passion for wine to be put to the test through what would be their new project.
Without having any prior knowledge or study into how you go about making wine, the pair undertook a series of experiments and in six years they made more than 60 different wines. Of course it wasn’t all pot luck and blind testing. Davide’s grandmother owned a house in the Abruzzo countryside which came with some land, a wine cellar and some old wine making equipment, whilst they were able to call on friends who were already producing organic wine for red and white grapes. In true Italian tradition la vendemmia as you see, is very much tied up with friends and family. Using traditional methods, what was by this point ‘Lammidia’ was producing up to 2,000 liters of wine equaling roughly 3,000 bottles. Their set up is as follows: four different types of wine; one red, one rosé, one maceration red wine and one white which comes from Montepulciano and Trebbiano grapes.
Creating interest amongst friends and family for their wines and coming up with their brand name – Lammidia: an envy or bad eye in the Abruzzese dialect, a name which came to mind when Davide’s grandmother used an ancient ritual to get rid of ‘La ‘mmidia’ which stops the fermentation process taking place. In 2014 founders Davide and Marco had their first “legal” harvest, and now they take their wine across and beyond Italy. In London they are represented through Gergovie Wines at 40 Maltby Street, working with their philosophy that chemical pesticides and fertilisers are not necessary, the wine should come from the land and grape only. As Davide and Marco tell me, their philosophy comes through continuous research, experimentation and innovation with a simple aim: “to get everyone happy and drunk in the healthiest way possible”. With that I can’t disagree, so let’s raise a toast to the humble grape.
December 9th 2016