A Brief History of Irpinia winemaking.

No doubt the overall quality of Irpinia viticulture and oenology has achieved in the last thirty years' a reputation and a development that is unparalleled with other Italian regions. The emblem of this renaissance over the years has certainly been the "liberation" - Carlo Petrini would say - of Vine and Wine in Irpinia, made of territorial value, identity, expression of a rural world that rediscovers his natural vocation, has captured the attention of the world with a wine district which now has over 250 companies, about 7,000 hectares of vines, thousands of winemakers, three wines DOCG and many territorial DOC: they make altogether the excellence of "lands of wine", which is a sure reference for travelers and enthusiasts. There had been - in truth - in the past, another occasion where wines of Irpinia were protagonists of the discussion: it was the beginning of '900, when the province of Avellino became, due to the epidemic of phylloxera that had saved some regions of the South, the third province to Italian production with about one million hectoliters (by Dante Lorenzo the Magnificent Parini and Carducci) of wine. This flourishing commerce allowed to the wine merchant Muscetta, father of the great literary critic Carlo, to pay him - as the same scholar wrote - university courses and start a successful career; however, he could not stop the epidemic of phylloxera - which, although it was lagging compared with the rest of Italy, starting from the 30s, lashed a "great vineyard" that only a few years earlier had achieved the remarkable milestone of one million three hundred thousand tons of grapes. It was not worth anything the presence of Agricultural Technical Institute, created in 1880 as the "Royal School of Viticulture and Enology," for want of the illustrious patriot Irpinia Francesco De Sanctis, who was the Education Minister with Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour and then with Benedetto Cairoli. The Gentile Reform had distorted the main purpose of the scientific specificity and of educational autonomy of the Institute that was testified, among other things, by the publication and dissemination of the appreciated "Journal of viticulture, oenology and agriculture" in Irpinia. Contrary to Francesco de Sanctis, promoter of itinerant teaching posts of agriculture, an agricultural museum and, of course, an agricultural technical training school, Fascism pointed - even for the middle earth of Irpinia - to an operation of regime in the field of wine-making, headed by two distinguished scholars of the time, Marescalchi and Dalmasso. "Published for the first time between the tenth and the sixteenth year of the Fascist Era and reprinted in gran style in 1980,

this monumental large format three-volume (embellishd with 1000 figures)," tells the "Bacchic Motivs of Apulian and Faliscan ceramics and places, as it were, 'vine-wine' of italian literature but is silent on the real problems of the wine sector in the Italian contemporary "reserving a few useless pages celebrating Irpina. There was progressively an abandonment of the lands and the end of so many productive varieties: phylloxera, war and poverty attributed to the land of Irpinia the sad record of the exodus and emigration: 300,000 abandoned, over 50 years, their true "homeland", the fields and the land they had always walked - Gino Veronelli would say - and those trains which for years had routed "Aglianico" or "Taurasino" or "Greek" wines, sorted men and women seeking more happier destiny. For a long time, nothing was more said Fiano di Avellino, Greek di Tufo, Aglianico, Tails the Fox, Sciascinoso, Piedirosso and many other vine varieties except for occasional celebratory events of a forgotten past, or, during visits and events organized by some wineries (first of all the the School winemaking De Sanctis) working to enhance the wines made from native vine varieties. But the revival was close: since the early 80's a handful of sensitive and proud of their rural origins winemakers follow the example of those brave pioneers and campaigns slowly returned to be populated with vineyards. Viticultural zoning, clonal selection, precision viticulture, traceability, environmental sustainability, natural wines: today Irpinia is a succession towards innovation and research and, at the same, time dozens of winemakers look to the vineyard as the fulcrum of the rebirth of tourism, gastronomy, culture, ethics and aesthetics. They are aware that a virtuous globalization can aspire to write a challenging and dynamic future of wine. Irpinia terrible stepmother in November 1980, generous mother today when in cleaning, authenticity, originality of its many wines reveals its unique climate and natural, historical, cultural and organizational resources permeated with cordial treatment, good taste and good manners typical of the people of Irpinia. Luciano Ercolino, by realising his company, was inspired by exactly this concept of "sense", few little things everyday that enriched with sense, are able to offer a state of grace far greater than what is provided today by a thousand amusements mechanics of mass consumerism. The real wealth today, in the steep vineyards of Irpinia, comes from the ability to understand and enjoy feelings and positive sensations and positiv meanings that are inherent in things, in events, in the ideas of every day, pushing Vinosia to the essential tension towards the beautiful and well done.