In July, I traveled to Vinci, Italy--the hometown of Leonardo da Vinci--with three other artists as part of DaVinci Wine's Storyteller contest. It was a trip of a lifetime, and now I'm in the process of documenting our journey and what we learned of the people and the place behind DaVinci Wine.
My story is due on Monday, and I'm frantically putting the finishing touches on it--but here is roughly 350 words of it, a small slice of what's to come.
Outside my shower every morning, I am greeted by a sparrow-like bird who perches herself on the bars that guard the window. I stare out over the clay-tiled roof of the Casale di Valle through the chimney stack out into the vineyards. The vineyards where DaVinci Chianti is made (hectares of Sangiovese grapes).
It's not a bad way to begin each day. In fact, I tend to linger longer, day-dreaming about what it would be like to live here—to take in this view each morning...do the Tuscan people realize how lucky they are? Breakfast is served outside on the patio. Chef Anna prepares a lovely spread of breads, prosciutto, melon, and coffee cakes. I sit with my espresso and again stare off into the vines.
Agronomist Andrea Meini stands in front of the perfectly-lined Sangiovese vines with pride, a bright blue sky in the background. Wearing a green Izod shirt, blue jeans, and sunglasses propped on his head, Andrea, who has been working with grapes for 27 years, explains how wine grapes are like all other fruit. When we eat peaches, each peach tastes different. A white-fleshed peach tastes different than a yellowed-fleshed peach, or a Gala apple tastes different than a Pink Lady apple. Different types of Sangiovese make a different taste in the wine.
Wine talk, like most things, is far more beautiful in Italian, I think as I listen to Carolina, our translator, explain what Andrea is so eloquently saying.
Currently, the growers here work with 12 Sangiovese clones. The best grapes from the best yield from the best grower go into DaVinci Wines. They experiment until they get it right, Andrea informs.
Andrea says he loves his job because he's the ring between the company and the growers. “I know all the growers and love working with them,” he says.
As I sneak over to take photos of the grapes--perfect prolate spheroids dangling in the sunlight-- I see Storyteller David Jon Kassan running down the dirt path between two rows of vines. The magic of this place makes us all do things like this: carefree, whimsical, and worth-capturing. It's no surprise that we take pictures of each other taking pictures, making art, writing words, kneading dough, filming sunsets, sketching faces. Four artists together in this place.
Please stay tuned to the blog for the complete story of my trip to Vinci, Italy and the amazing people and place behind DaVinci Wine. The complete piece, which is about 2,500 words, will be published here and on DaVinci's Facebook page in October. You can read my previous posts about this trip here (more preview), here (photos), and here (about the romance of wine).