On a cold and sunny morning at the end of December, when nature still sleeps quietly, and the long, ordered rows of vines seems a military deployment, we went to visit Vigna Traverso winery.
Located in the outskirts of the town of Prepotto (Udine – Friuli), in the middle of the sinuous and verdant Colli Orientali (eastern hills), we reach Vigna Traverso by struggling along a steep road, greatly rewarded both from the view and the courtesy of the sales manager Christian Basissi. After rapid small talks we are driven back down the same climb, through the village of Prepotto, and then suddenly we stop.
On our left, the vineyard extends along the slopes of a small closed and concave valley, protected by winds and sudden changes of temperature and guarded by the castle of Albana, rising at the beginning of the valley. The wine produced with the grapes of this valley has been named “Sottocastello” (under the castle) because the grapes ripen under the massive and comfortable profile of the castle. On our right, a small grove hides the quiet flow of the Iudrio creek, which marks the border with Slovenia.
The narrow asphalt road that we have travelled, the only visible human intervention, separates the vineyards from a grove; it seems as if the human hand, which usually modify natural shapes, this time has been limited to drawing, with a thin brush, the gray line of its passage.
After leaving this area, we return to Traverso winery, still on for that uphill we are now familiar with. The winery is housed in a modern building, enclosed in the hill, A stained-glass entrance overlooks a large room with a long dark and solid wood table. After a few corridors there is the cellar: long rows of steel barrels are the shelter for the products of the surrounding hills, each with its label.
The oenologist, Stefano Traverso, with wine glass in the hand, guides us in this labyrinth of colours, scents and flavours explaining precisely the wine-making processes and the composition of each single wine tasted.
But the visit is not over yet. Surprisingly there is a pickup truck waiting for us just outside the building. Mr. Traverso takes the wheel and like a good feudal lord with his guests, he brings us to the discovery of his properties; among the steep hills above the winery, through the oldest rows of vineyard, so that we can link what we drank to its place of origin, evidencing an attention to wine in all its aspects.
Before we get to the top of the slope we stop for a moment, we are shown a bare rock. It is the secret of Schioppettino wine as well as of other excellence in the territory of Colli Orientali: the ground is in fact composed of layers of marl and sandstones, a ground that is exceptionally suitable for viticulture.
Now it is late afternoon, a timid sun, filtered by a thin mist, illuminates the slope of the hill on top of which we find ourselves, and, like it, all the others. Colli Orientali seem like a lot of close-up piles hollowed out by a spiteful mole, all about the same height but none as tall as the neighbouring, all of a similar appearance, but each with its own characteristics and baggage of wine stories. A territory almost austere and unexpectedly sweet at the same time. A land where only those, like Vigna Traverso, having passion and dedication to their work, can love it and make it loved to others.