Wine au Naturel: An interview with Giampiero Bea, President of Viniveri
Here’s number two in the Wine au Naturel podcast/blog series for the Real Wine Fair. Happy listening/reading!
One of Bea's fantastic labels
Giampiero Bea is the president of ViniVeri (‘Real Wines’), a group of about 20 natural winemakers from all around Italy who work with the same winemaking philosophy we folk behind the Real Wine Fair also believe in. Viniveri aren’t into giving themselves strict rules and regulations because this contradicts the spirit of these ‘anarchic naturalists’, but you can read their manifesto below to get a good idea of what they stand for. We are fortunate enough to have about half of Viniveri’s members pouring their wines at the Real Wine Fair. Be sure to stop by and see them!
A few weeks ago for the Wine au Naturel podcast, I interviewed Giampiero, who makes stunning wines at Paolo Bea, his family’s estate in Montefalco, Umbria during Viniveri’s annual wine fair, ‘Vino Vino Vino’ in Cerea, just outside of Verona. Have a listen to what he had to say about natural wines.
By the way the gentleman claiming to make the best olive oil in the world kindly gave me a bottle to try, and I have to say it is very good. If you want to get your hands on some go to Fattoria Scirinda’s site.
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Intro music by the talented Amanda Rogers. Check out her lovely website, by her music. She’s awesome.
The Viniveri Manifesto
In a world where everything has a label, Viniveri has chosen to remain loose in its definition. Even the group’s motto, ‘Vino Secondo Natura’ (Wine By Nature), leaves one questioning. To some this is a useful tool, to others it sends a negative message.
For this reason, I will try, if possible, to explain the philosophy of this group of anarchical naturalists. In 2004, a group of four small organic winemakers, who had already been working this way for years, found itself tired of participating in wine fairs where the quality of a wine was judged more on the beauty of the stands surrounding it, than on the wine itself. Where packaging became more important than content.
Together the group decided to host a wine tasting where a minimalist approach to the décor would better reflect the spirit of the winemakers and how they work back in their cellars. This idea proved successful and the group began to grow. Now, there are almost twenty members in the Viniveri Consortium.
We can ask ourselves what do wines made in Tuscany have in common with those produced in Piemonte or the Veneto? What makes us feel at home in each others’ company if we are all so different?
Even before our first official meetings, we realised that we were all doing the same things in the vineyard, that our wines all expressed the same care and dedication, and that we treated our clients with the same respect and warmth. We became fast friends.
We all have the same sensibility and approach to the land. We all believe that our value is based on what was given to us by the earth and what we are able to give back to it in return.
It came as a pleasant surprise that all of us felt so foreign when compared to the rest of the market. We found that, at times, we no longer wanted to explain to people who we are, what we believe in and what we want out of our short existence on this earth.
Finally, we had become a real group. We were no longer bound by the uninformed anarchism that had robbed our countryside of the best minds and the strongest arms.
Finally, we were proud to tell the world that, even if we are not batting for the right team, it is possible to live, grow and improve. We prove this every day.
So here is what we are not. We are not organic, even if the rules of our consortium are even more restrictive in terms of both the vineyard and the cellar than those pertaining to organic certification. We are not biodynamic, even if many of us follow Steiner’s philosophy. We are not any these things because we know that, unfortunately, rules often become trends and rules are made to be broken. Real wealth is created another way.
It is easy to take advantage of the naivety of others. We realized this when we were told that if we made certain compromises and used industrially produced chemicals, we would get ‘quick’ results and would not impoverish the land or our own minds. We were no longer learning from nature and growing more knowledgeable because, at some point, we were offered a perfect little package with simple instructions for how to grow grapes. We decided to revolt and to return to making wine as it had been made in the past. We pledged to not simply accept what we hear, but to question and study what is around us. This is Viniveri. –Teobaldo Cappellano