Saverio Petrilli of Tenuta di Valgiano

\"tenuta\"Working the last two months at Tenuta di Valgiano in Lucca, Italy has been the turning point in my life. My discussions on biodynamics with Saverio Petrilli, the winemaker, have been so powerful I could only compare it to a religious experience. Saverio is well respected within the Italian and biodynamic winemaking community, and he often consults for Slow Food and Demeter on new projects. He also has the best nose I\”ve ever encountered – he can immediately point out when I\”ve been munching on garlic from ten feet away. I talked with him recently about the winery, biodynamics and this year\”s harvest.

How was the 2009 harvest? Do you learn something new every year?

Of course I do. Things are new and old at the same time. Nature is all connected, and anything that you do on one side, you will see the result on the other side. You have to have a lot common sense, but man does not live with common sense anymore. Most of the time we are so far away from it. So luckily for me, I learned more common sense.

This year I made a few trials with the biodynamic preparation 501. It enhances the effects of light and usually it is avoided in dry, hot countries. And this was a very hot and dry year for us. You would think the plants where I sprayed would suffer more than the ones I didn\”t because they were absorbing more light. In fact, it was the other way around.

This tells me the energy of the sun is a regulator, like when you are full of energy you don\”t feel cold, stress or tiredness. You just are plentiful. The sun is the energy of the plant. When you enhance the sun\”s ability to increase this energy, you are enhancing everything demanded by the vintage. When you are weak, you are more susceptible to disease. When you are strong, you are more resistant.

We had good weather, so it was easy to pick and the grapes had rich flavors, acidity, and sugar. They had everything. There were also a lot of grapes. Everyone thinks that small yields are beautiful and wants to reduce. But in our situation there were a lot of grapes and they were good. So nature can teach us with a bit of irony. 

Tenuta di Valgiano was established in 1993 and is already the leading winery in Lucca. What has that journey been like?

Simply put, very tiring. Valgiano at first was nothing. A nice, but ruined property. It took a lot of energy to build the team, the structures and find out what the vines could produce. When you have a great terroir you want to create a great wine of the terroir. You\”re not producing something simple and sweet for the market. We had to defend ourselves from the media at certain stages and point out and protect our beliefs. 

In the beginning it\”s all big steps and afterwards you look at the details. This fine tuning is the most difficult part and can take centuries. However, in today\”s world you are not given centuries. When biodynamics is as good as it has been for us, you become a part of its army. People say that biodynamics is all bullshit, but you have to fight. It\”s not really a crusade, because you\”re not attacking anyone that does conventional agriculture. Instead, I\”m just defending online casinos my beliefs and showing what has happened at Valgiano with biodynamic agriculture. And no one can contest me because it\”s a reality they can see. 

Who were some of your mentors?

Julian Castagna was my first mentor, though today we might not do the same thing. But biodynamics is really about freedom. My next mentor was Alex Podolinksky who is the finest man I have met on earth. In two hours he can change your life forever and give you such an amazing world view, so broad and complete, that your life before almost disappears. It\”s like you\”re in kindergarten again. 

How would you explain your concept of biodynamics?

The biggest problem with biodynamics in today\”s world is that it\”s not possible to state or describe. Its almost an illusion. Biodynamics is really about the preparation. The only thing you can describe is the way you prepare, store and distribute it in the soil. And then everything is up to the farmer; the sensibility and the way to adapt to a situation. So this makes it very difficult to catch and write in block letters.

But the preparations are revolutionary and no one understands how evolutionary it is. The idea that the farm can do well without buying anything. Even if you use organic agriculture, you will probably need to buy manure. So then you have to have a huge truck, which is polluting and creates traffic problems Koska online- kasino jen pelit ovat saataville niin monessa maassa ja siten siis niin monelle pelaajalle, tarjoaa pienempienkin todennakoisyyksien pelit suurimmat voittonsa melko usein. and so on. With biodynamics, you can Wat ons betreft is er dan ook niet een roulette strategie die echt feilloos werkt en die u altijd winst op zal leveren. mimic the function of manure with just 100 grams of humus, which is nothing. You can do it on your own farm with one cow on 40 hectares of land.

It\”s so easy and makes you completely free from all the seductive, economical tricks the \”new\” research from the university wants you to believe. And in the end, we discover that all of the research is fake anyway. When someone states a \”new\” truth, I automatically know it\”s not acceptable for my farm. I consult with myself first for everything with Valgiano. And through many mistakes, I\”ve been able to discover the needs of this place. Like a human relationship, you learn how to share a life and to make another person happy.

What advice do you have for young winemakers? 

Believe, create, trust, and give. These are the main things. And then everything happens. Valgiano was in an area that was completely unknown before us, and now it\”s something thanks to the effort we have made. We put in a lot of energy without any other parties or tools. And then you should be confident. Trust yourself and the people around you. And that they will be good and they will work for the best, and people with power will use it for the best. You should also really be creative and ready to receive nature. Rudolf Steiner said we should place ourselves by nature and let nature design and paint herself. So that means not to have preconceived ideas but to be ready to change your mind constantly. Let intuition come through and direct your steps.

What are some of your favorite wine regions and wines?

I\”ve learned so much through visiting other winemakers, and in the end I realized how much was driven by passion and emotions and how that was making a difference in the wine they made. To such an extent, that when I found a passionate and sensitive winemaker, I would be very upset if the wine didn\”t match. I would think that it couldn\”t be possible. And when it happened, I found that there was a problem in the life of the winemaker that had diverted their energy from the wine.

For example, I knew someone in Bordeaux who lost her husband and her wines were good, but not great. But usually her passion was there. So in the end I can\”t say my favorite region, only that my favorite winemakers are the people who put their passion in their wine and those who are animated by the passion of the sacred fire. This fire burns and there is no room for anything else. Your creativity goes only to the wine. All my energy is to work; to Valgiano. But still I feel that I am enriched by this and that I can live without all the other things.

Top three things you can\”t live without in terms of food or drink? 

Spaghetti a pomodori fresco with lots of basil and garlic. Everything else I\”m very fond of but it\”s all interchangeable. I\”m really adaptable. Even if Valgiano went away I could still live, no problem. 


2 responses to “Saverio Petrilli of Tenuta di Valgiano”

  1. Katarina, thank you so much for this wonderful interview. I have spent time in Lucca and your piece brought back the terroir I felt in the surrounding countryside. You are right, individuals like Saverio can change your life because they show you that passion, decency and success are intertwined. Please send us more updates and tell us about your daily life and how it relates to the wine making process. Ciao per adesso. jr

  2. raffaele cetrangolo Avatar
    raffaele cetrangolo

    ciao saverio,sono raffaele il tuo amico d’infanzia ho provato gia a cercarti nel passato,e stavolta ho provato su google,mi ha fatto un immenso piacere vederti e pieno di emozioni,sono ritornato indietro con il tempo,se ti fa piacere sono su facebook,e ti lascio il mio e abraccio e saluto raffaele

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