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"La Castellina"

June 2017

I arrived in Italy expecting to discover artisans working on their crafts, maintaining old traditions and seeing the famous Italian-made arts just like in the movies. However, like the rest of our developed world, I discovered that in most cases this isn't as romantic as I would have imagined. So, I sought out those artists, old families, forgotten crafts and local produce that are made with the same techniques that drew me to Tuscany in the first place.
 
I chose to share this journey in my blog, under the collaborations page, for the simple reason that every single one of these companies supports the same view of the world and the same vision I aspire to; a high-quality product made with love and deep thought of creating value for the costumer who buys it. 
 
My first stop was, "La Castellina", an ancient winery situated in an impressive and well conserved structure in the center of my village. On the first floor of the winery, you can find a variety of wines and related products and of course, seating for wine tastings. A stairway leads to the two bottom floors of the ancient structure, into spaces containing small tables designated for private wine tastings or light lunches. These spaces are surrounded with shelves packed with antique wines. I finished the tour in the underground part surrounded by giant wine barrels and an intoxicating smell.
 
I sat with Tommaso Bojola, the owner of the winery (together with his wife Monica), for an interview on the terrace of the restaurant. It has an amazing view, one that only Chianti can offer. 
 
In order to understand the industry he comes from, I started the interview with a few questions that reflect in a way, the way I see the world nowadays.  
 
SADLY, TODAY, MUCH OF THE ITALIAN TRADITIONS OF AGRICULTURAL WORK AND CRAFSTMANSHIP HAVE DISSAPPEARED. WHAT DO YOU THINK?
 
"Since old times, Florence has been the center of artisanship. Sadly, nowadays a lot of this tradition has been lost because, on the one hand, there have been generational changes and on the other hand, because of the bureaucracy in Italy that doesn't help small artisans so much. However, when it comes to wine, it is more valued today than it once was, because people recognize the quality and the work that is put into it. Therefore, they are willing to pay even more!"
 
IN THIS MORE INDUSTRIALIZED WORLD, THERE IS A TENDENCY TO PRODUCE A LARGER QUANTITY OF PRODUCTS NEGLECTING THE QUALITY. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS?
 
"In regards to wine, you choose either quality or quantity. If you have a large company you might decide to choose the latter, ignoring what I consider the best aspects of our work. For example, choosing the grapes with your own two hands or picking the greenest ones. Originality and quality are what characterizes us the most!"
 
Since I am asked these questions a few times a week I thought it would be interesting to hear from someone else, who like me came from somewhere else and was not born in the village: what brought him here and of course, what made him start practicing winemaking? 
 
WHAT DROVE YOU TO PRODUCE WINE? WHAT WAS YOUR OBJECTIVE?
 
"It wasn't anything planned I just found myself here. Ever since high school I decided to go down the road of the agro-food field, which is why I went to an agricultural school but in those days we didn't have the funds necessary to make this desire of mine concrete.  Thanks to the constant passion and a bit of luck, I have found myself here since 87'."
 
IS THERE A WINE THAT CHARACTERIZES YOU THE MOST? AND SINCE YOU ALSO HAVE AN EXCELLENT RESTAURANT WHAT WOULD YOU MATCH IT WITH?
 
"Well, having given it this name I would have to say "Tommaso Bojola riserva"! It is a very spicy but soft wine, very fine and pleasing to the palate. I think the perfect combination would be with a juicy rare steak." 
 
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WINE?
 
"Since our wines are from high hills, they have a very spicy aroma. Because the climate is much chillier, it brings a perfect balance of elegant flavors.  Furthermore, the typical characteristic is the spicing that leaves a delicious licorice flavor that is noticeable most in the wine reserves."  
 
WHAT IS THE GREATEST GOAL THESE DAYS?
 
"Undoubtedly, retiring!  Jokes aside, I believe it is to produce wine with an ever-increasing quality that will remain imprinted in people's minds!"
 
At the end of the not so short conversation we had in Italian, I told Tommaso that I think good wine is like a memory. He looked at me with wondering eyes and I explained, when you drink good wine, what you ate, did and thought in that moment are deeply engraved in your memory. It is as if time stopped still for a moment and all that is left is to enjoyably sip the wine and look around and if the view that surrounds you is more beautiful than you can contain, the moment will intensify even more. 
 
I admit, I came out of that conversation encouraged because perhaps in other industries much like in the wine industry it will be possible to find those who preserve past traditions. I realized, that Tommaso not only preserves the traditions but doesn't forget for a moment the importance of a human touch in his products and does not neglect the quality needed for producing the best wine. He also uses innovative technology in order to improve the past. Like the late Shimon Peres said: "Technology is only the empowerment of the different body parts". And, if you ask me that is exactly my definition for progression. 
 
Till the next time,
Me
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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May you always be inspired
Sincerely yours,
Ziv Fetter