All new for 2020, my friend and colleague Maurizio Di Franco and I are collaborating on a super fun vineyard excursion from Rome to one of our favorite places just outside of town, Cantina Ribelà. Maurizio is a certified sommelier (you may know him from tastings at Vino Roma) and he has been providing food tours for me for years. He’s an outstanding guide as many, many, many online reviews attest and also an incredible and enthusiastic resource when it comes to deciphering the complex world of Italian wines.

The half-day excursion starts in Rome and heads southeast to Monte Porzio Catone in the Regional Park of the Castelli Romani, a historic zone where wine was made by Romans and the Etruscans before them. The area may have an ancient and well-established winemaking tradition, but it wasn’t exactly known for quality; much of the zone’s vino has been mediocre at best for a couple thousand years. Rome’s proximity guaranteed a built-in market thirsty for cheap wine, while mass production from the 1970s to today saw production grow to supply foreign markets with insipid Frascati.

Ribelà founders Daniele and Chiara, a young couple, wanted to make wine with character and flavor that reflected the land in which it is made. The husband and wife team purchased a vineyard set among the undulating volcanic hills of Monte Porzio Catone and made their first wine back in 2014. Their two hectares of vines aged 30 to 60 years old are certified organic and are farmed with biodynamic practices in the ancient pergola system. Owing to its location near two spent volcanoes, the soil is rich in tufa and has natural predisposition to drainage. It’s the ideal environment for olive groves and fruit orchards, perfect partners for white grapes like Malvasia, Trebbiano, Bombino and Bellone and reds such as Cesanese, Aleatico, Sangiovese, and Montepulciano.

The visit with Maurizio includes a walk through the vineyards and a description of Ribelà‘s biodynamic philosophy and methods, followed by a tour through their small but modern cellar (Daniele is an architect and designed the cellar to follow the natural steps of the winemaking process). Finally, you’ll sit in the tasting room and sample three different styles of wine paired with local cured meats and cheeses. Book your half-day trip to Ribelà with Maurizio now. Contact us here or write to info (at) katieparla dot com for rates and availability.