A story that combines a love of Calabria, the passion for wine, a great culture and a lot of determination. So began the adventure of Giovanni Celeste Benvenuto, today young entrepreneur of Cantine Benvenuto, sommelier and agronomist, back from Abruzzo to Francavilla Angitola, on the plot of land that belonged to his grandfather, to cultivate his dream: to live in contact with nature, in a place suspended between the sea and the sky, and where the sun gently caresses the vineyards sloping down to the blue sea in natural terraces. A territory suited to viticulture since 2000 A.C. when the Phoenicians introduced for the first time in this territory vitis vinifera.
“I’m half Calabrian,” is how Giovanni Benvenuto introduces himself,” I came here as a child with my family. I have to admit that Abruzzo and Calabria have something in common.” He smiles, and tells us about his choice at 18 to drop everything and come to Calabria to attend the Mediterranean University to graduate in agronomy, while simultaneously developing a passion to cultivate the family’s land and become a certified Sommeliers. “I started to recover and re-terrace the vineyard and to produce grapes.” A quality production, thanks to the type of land already appreciated during the time of the Barrio and Marafioti that extolled the perfection of the wine produced in this area. Fascinated by this story – the verses of the two writers dominate the entrance to the cellars – Giovanni decided to devote himself to another ambitious project, wine making (mainly from indigenous grapes). Also this made wisely and with the best techniques, as he himself tells us.
The battle horse of the Cantine Benevuto?
“The zibibbo grapes,” he responds promptly telling us about his personal challenge to allow the wine making with these zibibbo grapes in Calabria. “Here the law recognized these type of grapes only as table grapes or as raisins. It was not possible, however, to use it to obtain a dry wine, as they do in Sicily. We fought and eventually the region issued a decree. We were the first in Calabria to make a dry IGP wine. It is definitely the wine that gives us the most satisfaction.”
Speaking about satisfaction…
“My first satisfaction was to see who would appreciate the taste of this wine, and now, thanks to the Slow Food network to which we belong, we have become a Slow Wine garrison. You can find us in the 2016 guide.”
Your hopes for the future?
“Surely, to continue to enhance the indigenous varieties: the zibbibo and the Calabrian, the latter better known as Nero d’Avola”.
To enhance what Calabria offers is also the advice that Giovanni Benvenuto extends to all young people of Calabria. “We should not invent anything, but take care of what this land gives us.”
He has no doubts about this earth’s resources: “agriculture and tourism. There are many vacant plots. With a little passion it’s possible to create so many opportunities.”
To go and touch with your own hands is the passion that John Welcome puts in his wine cellar. An authentic place where we immediately feel the love for the land and for wine, the details and the quality … to be greeted with a background of classical music and famous phrases of two writers of the 1500s makes you immediately understand how wine making is an art that requires so much culture.