March 07, 2023 by Margaux
Meet the Maker: Ferrante di Marzo, Cantine di Marzo
The legend has it that in 1647, Scipione di Marzo, first known ancestor of the di Marzo family, left his hometown of San Paolo Belsito to flee from the black plague that was ravaging the region. He took with him some vines of a local white variety they called “Greco del Vesuvio” or “Greco di Somma” at the time. Once settled in Tufo, he planted the vines and became the founder of the wine we now call Greco di Tufo. Furthermore, Cantine di Marzo was registered officially as an Azienda Agricola with the Chamber of Commerce in 1833, thus being the most ancient winery in the Campania region, and one of the oldest in Southern Italy.
Nearly two centuries later, in 1866, Francesco di Marzo was riding on his estate when he saw some shepherds burning rocks to keep warm. While examining these rocks, he understood they were burning brimstone found on his land. With this discovery, he family began a large mining activity of natural brimstone, an essential mineral for agriculture. The company supplied farmers around the region and employed up to 500 people up to the early 1980’s when the mines ran out. The di Marzo family has been major landowners, members of parliament, senators, and leaders in the region for generations. They were very essential in the development of the railway in the region and even founded the local car race called “Principe di Piemonte.”
Today, Ferrante di Marzo runs the winery in the same building purchased by his ancestors years ago. I recently had the pleasure of visiting Ferrante in Campania and the winery is just as historic as it is beautiful. Carved into a tufo cave, the winery has framed photos and archives documenting the families historic impact in the region. The tasting tables are assembled on old barrels and as you exit the tasting cave they have seating in the grass along the hillside. The views of Greco are breathtaking and as you sit there, staring at the rows of vines, it is hard to not become completely consumed by the depth, complexity, and history of the region.
During my visit Ferrante took me on a tour of the vineyards with Pepo Giuseppe, the viticulturist. Pepo has been tending to the vines and growing the grapes for over 30 years. Before that he was growing grapes with his dad down the road. One could say Pepo knows the vines just as well as his own children. The vineyards are on old family land surrounded by wild forest. Fava beans (add nitrogen to the soil), wild turnips and local brush grows in between the vines which helps the soil retain water during the dry summer months. It’s a working ecosystem in the vines and Pepo does his best to respect nature knowing the diversity of soil is what makes his grapes so special. Sustainability is at the core of Cantine di Marzo and their attention to detail is evident in the quality of wine created.
Fiano di Avellino has been my favorite type of white wine for a few years now and I am over the moon that we are able to bring to you our first direct import of Fiano and Greco di Tufo. They have bright citrus fruit, volcanic minerality and texture like an aged Chablis. Hopefully these wines open up the world of southern Italian whites and gets you as excited as we are about this region we are calling the new wild frontier.