This month we are shining a spotlight on the Owner of the Le Colture wine Estate, Alberto Ruggeri.
Q) Please tell us about the Le Colture estate.
First and foremost Le Colture is a family business, where everyone has a say in what we do. We clash and debate, we cheer and rejoice altogether as a family would do. At first, Le Colture was a farm created by grandfather Gerardo – in those days we were animal breeding and we were also farming other crops. My grandfather however was only producing still wines. The first sparkling wines are the result of our father Cesare’s work and vision; in 1983 he proudly started to produce them almost exclusively from owned vineyards. He knew how quality could only come from a meticulous management of his own vineyards. Then all of the family became involved, children, grandchildren, we are now one big team. We all deal with winery operations, sales, the cellar, visits and so much more, we give ourselves a lot to do! Today the company owns 40 hectares, all located in the spectacular landscape of the Valdobbiadene hills; the entire production process (a blend of traditional and modern techniques) is the common effort of a very close-knit team. We also pride ourselves of our guesthouse Prime Gemme where we can welcome wine lovers and friends.
Q) Why do you think Prosecco has become such a popular drink of choice in the UK?
Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG and Prosecco DOC have both become popular wines in the UK mainly because of a better understanding of what these wines are and what they can offer and represent. The wall of diffidence and perhaps superficiality around the category has been knocked down! These are certainly easy to drink wines; but this is far from being trivial or obvious! By tasting wines from different areas and producers one can truly appreciate all the different nuances of the Prosecco world. Just look at the difference between the Rive and the Cartizze terroirs and you can tell how diverse top Prosecco can be! It is a simple wine but it is also very simple to make it wrong! That’s why the production process is so delicate. Over time there has been a massive improvement in the winemaking and (not only) the British consumer have noticed it. They understand how pleasant and refreshing, fragrant and aromatic, persistent and full, quality Prosecco can be. Surely another reason for its popularity is also the levity with which this wine can be drunk. It is the opposite of being an intimidating wine. It lends itself to be drunk at any occasion, formal or informal: an aperitif, a lunch in the garden, a dinner with colleagues, a birthday party, even a Christmas dinner! Ultimately this is a pop wine; for everyone!
Q) What is your favourite part of the wine making process and why?
Definitely the harvest! There is no doubt about it! It is the most exciting, the most hectic, delicate, the most important moment of the whole year! It is a blend of emotions: you get angry, happy, you live every moment in apprehension and fear something can go wrong. However the joy is irrepressible when you collect those golden, healthy and shiny bunches. The same joy you have when the wagon arrives at the winery, loaded with “yellow gold” which soon after in an almost magical process will be transformed. It is really amazing after a whole year of waiting, constantly worried about the weather, to witness how within a few days (20 at most for us) those bunches we took care of become grape juice and then must. You have to do it quickly, but you have to do it well! These frenzy moments between the rows (because Glera’s very delicate and light skins, when ripe, need to be harvested as soon as possible) are invaluable. Ultimately, the harvest is a party, a party among the rows, a party in the small frugal lunches among the vineyards rows; a glass of wine and a quick dinner together with the all team at the end of the day. Buckets, scissors, children, tractors, tall grapes and low grapes, it is a swarming of people, voices and songs.
Q) What are your plans for the Le Colture Estate over the next 5 years?
I’m going to be honest; as quality Prosecco producers we do not have exactly an easy life ahead of us. Often, unfortunately, Prosecco is still being trivialized and it is underestimated as a category. Although comparison with other sparkling wine categories is to be expected we also expect it to be considered for what it is: a great Italian aromatic sparkling wine with a respectable history and a very precise identity. So the plans for the next 5 years, involve working on growing the perceived value of Prosecco, its quality and its diversity. We also want to make clear how top-quality Prosecco can also be a wine for “ageing”. With a good base wine, it can last for years. In order to do this, I intend to expand our hospitality offer and have the international customers come and see us with their own eyes – and to taste of course and compare terroirs and vintages. Finally, I would also like to experiment with different vinification techniques, such as that of the champenois method for Glera, with a longer time on the lees, to increase its ageing potential.
Q) When people are allowed to travel more freely again why should they come and visit the region of Veneto?
Why Veneto? Because there is everything! It is a diverse and complete region! There is one of the most unique and famous cities in the world, Venice! There is the sea with its warm and sunny beaches and the marine reserves of the Venetian Lagoon. There are the Mountains! The Dolomites boasting beautiful landscapes and fabulous places. A unique mosaic of artistic and historical cities such as Verona, Padova, Treviso. And last but not least, the endless hilly landscapes, embellished by lush woods and vineyards, small rural villages and of course the breath taking vineyards of the Valdobbiadene Conegliano Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
Q) When you are not making wine what might we find you doing?
Oh! Quite a few things. Riding a bike up and down the hills… having a few cheeky drinks and meals, a spontaneous aperitif with friends or a gourmet dinner in some nice agriturismo on the hills! Getting lost in my beloved Venice, filling my eyes with utter beauty.
*Main photo ©Mattia Mionetto