Italy is a land of wine.  With its ideal climate for grape growing, grapevines have carpeted the Italian landscape since prehistory and wines have been an integral part of everyday Italian life for centuries.  However, both the grape varieties utilized and the winemaking process have changed considerably over time and substantially altered the Italian wine scene.


Dr. Piero Mastroberardino, head of the distinguished Mastroberardino winery in Campania Italy will discuss his winery’s role in the recovery and commercial success of some of Campania’s ancient grape varieties. He will also discuss his winery’s initiatives to research and reintroduce grape growing and wine production as it existed some 2,000 years ago in the ancient city of Pompeii. SMATCH is sponsoring this conference in conjunction with the Smithsonian Associates.


In 1996 the Superintendent of Pompeii entrusted the Mastroberardino Winery with the responsibility of restoring the vineyards of the ancient city.  During several years of research that involved botanical studies, analysis of pollen recovered in Pompeii, survey of chroniclers of the Roman era, and study of frescoes on site, two types of indigenous grape varieties were identified--the Piedirosso and the Sciascinoso.  These were then planted in the exact locations identified as being in use in Roman times. Historical research also yielded information on ancient vineyard management techniques that were employed in the project.


The first vintage produced by Mastroberardino from the Pompeii vines was in 2001.  The entire production of 1,700 bottles was sold at auction in Rome and all the proceeds plowed back into the project.  Today, there are 15 small vineyards in Pompeii managed by Mastroberardino, covering almost 4 acres.  In recent years the Aglianico grape variety has also been planted (again with the ancient techniques used for this variety).


The wine produced from the Pompeii vineyards has been named "Villa dei Misteri" by Mastroberardino and contains 50 percent Aglianico, 40 percent Piedirosso and 10 percent Sciascinoso."


The conference will take place on Monday, April 13 at the Ripley Center of the Smithsonian Institution.  Watch this space for more information and for a link on how to register...