Anne's Blog

Wine-making in Umbria: il Vino di Pino

Date: November 26, 2019 - categories: , , , , - 2 Comments

It’s still un vino giovane (“a young wine”) but buonissimo.

Pino had assured me that it would be when he’d offered me a first sip late September, after pressing the grapes.

Pino’s talents go beyond stone restoration: he’s a creative chef and an adept wine-maker, too.

Using a small press in an improvised “wine cellar” (the storeroom where he keeps his motorcycle, motorcycle jacket and helmets), Pino transformed about two hundred kilos of grapes into vino rosso.

For pressing, Pino had purchased a small wooden press – a type usually used for making vin santo – reinforced with red metal bands. First task: placing it at a height for pressing which would minimize back stress. The solution? Pino used a discarded gray plastic stool as the wine press “pedestal.”

Using a plastic kitchen sieve, Pino then transferred the grapes from the steel vat into the press….

…..and firmly pressed down on the grapes…..

….before turning the lever of the press:

His system for transfer of the grape juice to the large steel vat for aging was a simple invention: the juice flowed over a plastic plate balanced on the gray stool into a white bucket below….

…and then Pino poured the grape juice into the stainless steel vat. From the vat, we’d later fill bottles with il vino di Pino.

We’d had to buy half of our grapes for il vino di Pino this year: there was no yield from our vineyard up on the hill. Vineyards have to be pruned annually, logicamente, and Pino’s work overload this year had not permitted vineyard time, much to his chagrin.

We did have an abundance of grapes, though, on those vines twisting up the trunks of the European maples near our house. The trees – called le madri dell’uva – were traditionally planted by the farmers in the middle of their fields as a way to increase grape yield. Farms in the Umbrian hills were generally quite small with one area designated for a vineyard; the grape yield was insufficient, then, for the rural family’s annual needs.

Most of the land had to be sown with wheat, oats, or barley and crops for hay (alfalfa or clover). The solution? Le madri dell’uva – each trunk wrapped with a climbing grape vine – were planted in widely-spaced rows in the fields so as to avoid interference with plows and harvesting equipment.

Wires were extended between the maples and the grape vine spiraling up around each tree trunk was pruned to reach out and wrap around the wire connected to the next tree.

Grape yield for the farm family was thus maximized. Ingenious. Another example of that creativita’ italiana.

The farmer Giannetto who had built our farmhouse in the 1920’s had planted madri dell’uva near the house (where we now have our vegetable garden). Nearly a century old, those vines wrapping around the trunks of their madri, still produce a generous yield: this year about one hundred kilos of grapes. This was the grape abundance last August:

In these November photos, you can see Gianettto’s vine-embraced maple trees in front of our farmhouse:

Like many a farmer, Gianetto had also used the south-facing side of the farmhouse wall as a trellis to support additional vines (as you can see in this 1978 photo of our house)….

…and note the vines clinging to our farmhouse wall in this photo of our 1975 grape harvest (our first) with farm neighbors, Mandina and Peppe:

But the walls of our farmhouse – restored by Pino – no longer support vines.

We needed more grapes than those yielded by our madri dell’uva for our wine and so we bought another one hundred kilos from our friend Renato who had harvested cabernet grapes with three workers

Renato’s grapes and ours are united now in that vino di Pino, maturing in the stainless steel vat near his motorcycle in our downstairs storage area. Over the vat is a photo of my Dad, World War II co-pilot (middle figure, back row). That seems like a good omen to me!

Read about– and see! – our grape harvest, 1979

Read about another Pino wine-making adventure

Click here to read about wine lore

Click here to read about the Montefalco wine festival


  • Janet Eidem says:

    Marvelous read Annie! There is so much in this post. Reminds me of my farm time in Maine, only our grapes were wild.

  • Janet,
    I’d missed your comment..thanks so much…
    Glad you will be here in October – you’ll have to taste this “vino di Pino”!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Privacy Policy

Privacy Italian Legislative Decree n° 196/2003 Under Article 13 of the Italian Legislative Decree no. 196/2003, regulations with regard to the Protection of Personal Data, this is an informative report to all interested parties on the modality of the treatment of personal data, arising from interaction with our website
THE PRINCIPAL FOR DATA TREATMENT During site consultation, personal data referring to identified or identifiable persons can be processed. The principal for data treatment is Anne Robichaud Pian della Pieve Assisi 06081 (PG) Italy. The data will be mainly processed at the mentioned head office by the people responsible for the website or by other people appointed for occasional maintenance operations, provided that their actions conform to of the guarantees enshrined in the Legislative Decree 196/2003.
Web navigation The information systems and software procedures required for the functioning of this website, acquire some personal data during their normal service, the transmission of which is implicit in the use of web communication protocols. This information is not collected with the purpose of identifying interested parties, but due to its very nature, the information could lead to user identification through processes and relations with data held by third parties. In this data category there are IP addresses or domain names belonging to computers used by users who connect to the site, addresses with URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) notification of the requested resources, time of the request, used method in submitting the request to the server, dimension of the file obtained in replying, the numeric code mentioning the reply status given by the server (successful reply, error, etc?) and other parameters referred to the operation system and to the user’s information environment. This data is used with the sole purpose of obtaining anonymous statistical information on the use of the site and to check the correct functioning; immediately after processing, the data is erased.
Data voluntarily supplied by the user The voluntary optional and explicit e-mail transmission to the addresses mentioned in this site implies the subsequent acquisition of the sender’s address, necessary to reply to the queries, as well as the other eventual personal data registered in the message.
OPTIONAL PERSONAL DATA SUPPLY Except for the above mentioned navigation data, the user may be asked to supply his own personal data through queries or messages to the email addresses shown in the contact pages. Failure to provide such data may be the cause of the inability to obtain the requested information from the company.
TREATMENT MODALITY The personal data is treated in compliance with the Legislative Decree no. 196/2003 and held only for the time necessary to achieve the aim for which it has been collected. Specific safety measures are taken to prevent any data loss, illicit or incorrect use and unauthorized access.
RIGHTS OF THIRD PARTIES The data subjects are at any time entitled to obtain confirmation as to whether or not data relating to him are held, to know the contents and the origin, to check the correctness, to ask for integration, updating or change (art. 7 Decree Law 196:June 2003). In accordance with the same article, they are entitled to obtain the erasure, conversion into anonymous form or freezing of all data used in breach of the law, to object, on legitimate grounds, to the processing of data relating to him. All requests have to be transmitted to the e-mail address

Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)