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Still Working The Vineyards At 88 And 91 Years Old

In southern Italy the sun shines down on an elderly married couple, Grandma Tonetta and Grandpa Toniuccio, while they work in their tiny plot that is planted with vines over a century old – the indigenous white grape Verdeca. Their vineyard is located between Canale di Pirro and the Valle d’Itria within the region of Puglia, the heel of Italy. Their vineyard technically lies in the Valle d’Itria IGT wine designated area; summers may be pleasantly warm there but the winters are severe as the plots lie between 1000 to 1400 feet in altitude, only one of the reasons why white grapes dominate in the area. It is backbreaking work tending to such old vines using only manual labor that many would think unimaginable at any age let alone at the impressive milestones of 88 and 91 years old.

Along Comes A Young Man

Tonetta and Toniuccio have been caretakers of their own vines and making wine for local consumption for decades and it seems that it would always be that way as they had no desire to sell it to anyone else. But one day a winemaker, who had worked for bigger wineries yet wanted to set out on his own, stopped by their vineyard to discuss buying their grapes. Their Verdeca vineyard would bear the the title of prized wine of that winemaker’s portfolio and it would represent the…

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