Corrado on Vale
Tenuta La Favola exists because of Valeria. With her I’ve understood how everything we have must be not only preserved but also modified and enriched by our spirit. She’s the one with the big ideas, the one who never tires of dreaming and in doing so constantly creates new perspectives, new paths. But don’t ask her for a business plan, that means nothing to her. Do you want to see her panic? Ask her to calculate three times five times two on the spot. No, Maths is definitely not her thing. What fascinates me most of all about her is her ability to relate to people, to entertain three people at the same time, switching between Italian, German and English. But if she doesn’t take to someone, watch out. If she doesn’t feel the empathy, if she doesn’t see in the other person a respect for our values, even when a good commercial opportunity is on offer, there’s no chance. The response will be no.
Ask her advice about wine? The first thing she’ll tell you is: it’s not her expertise. Even if she doesn’t get the chemical formulae and vines in the technical sense, you can be sure that a wine she likes will be a successful one. What’s it like to live and work with a travelling companion like Valeria? A never-ending sequence of green valleys and storms. The worst thing I can say to her when she tells me she wants to stop, that she doesn’t want to continue in a certain direction, is to accuse her of abandoning this creation, this winery that she wanted so much. I repeat these words and it drives her crazy. This world of joys and concerns, she keeps telling me, is a fundamental but only tiny part of us. Our life together is so many other things: this I must not forget.
Vale on Corrado
All this stress for a photo! What you see is one of the few shots they managed to get of the two of us together. And when it comes to understanding a treatment, or pruning or anything else to do with the vineyard? That’s complicated too!
When Corrado talks to you he assumes you have the same level of knowledge as him – an agronomist and oenologist with an academic background and 40 years’ experience as a research institute director. Sometimes he returns from a daily tour of the vineyard and he’ll say something like “the plants down there are suffering”. When I ask him what they’re suffering from, he looks amazed, he can’t understand how some things aren’t just felt instinctively. It’s taken me time to know what he means. It’s not just wine making culture, study, patience, a sense of responsability for the life he cares for.
In these plants, in these clods of earth, there is the spirit of his ancestors, the love of his family, the stubborn pride of a Sicilian man who is deeply connected to his land, the vision of a more dignified world, an ancient sense of duty and of keeping one’s word. There is also a profound sense of gratitude to those who have gifted him all this. It’s not just a question of knowledge and experience, he is this land, he feels its breath, he senses it in a single glance in the same way a father knows his child. Around him, beside him, behind him, together with him in his world of complex sentiments, in this little corner of paradise, here we are – our daughters and me – our little dog, the donkeys, the horses, a whole female universe that includes the vines and the plants. How can one not love such a tender and strong-willed man?
A PROJECT STARTING 200 YEARS AGO
In the early 1800’s Giuseppe Di Natale, a native from Siracusa as well as the great grandpa of the current owner Corrado Gurrieri, decided to buy the Buonivini (good wines) company. The property was encompassing a hill planted with Nero d’Avola grapes and orchards of olive trees and carob trees. In the midst of this Garden of Eden there was an old mill facility processing both the grapes and the olives. The grapes were pressed in the grape-mill (palmento) and then carried out on carts to a warehouses in Marzamemi, Sicily. Lastly these goods were shipped to Genoa, Malta and Great Britain using our family sea vessels.
Between 1800 and 1900 the winery was quite busy and prosperous. At harvest time, Don Giuseppe was employing up to 50 workers from neighbouring towns. The Buonivini building represented an important reference point in this area. It was referred as the Di Natale House whether by civilians or even on military road charts for this area.
At the end of the 19th century Giuseppe Di Natale along with partner Antonna, built a distribution warehouse (scagno) in Pachino, an area situated in the very Southern tip of Sicily. This facility was attracting brokers from all over Northern Italy. These trade people were seeking for robust and succulent wines expressing the radiance of our territory. This wine profile was very much on demand by dealers of Northern Italy. This company was known as: “Di Natale-Antonna”, and Giuseppe Di Natale became soon the sole owner. The 1903 issue of the “Industrial and Agricultural Review of Sicily” (Rivista commerciale industriale e agricola della Sicilia) mentioned the winery Di Natale as one of the most representative enterprise of Southern Sicily.
In 1908 Buonivini passed to Giuseppe Di Natale’s son Don Corrado. He was a very popular and charismatic man as reported by the many writings and narrative of his workers.
In 1936 due to unfavourable economic convergences, the wine prices collapsed. This fact represented a unique opportunity for all warehouses that start buying enormous quantities of wine. As a result, there were riots organized by starved farmers who plundered and burned down all warehouses except Don Corrado’s facility: he was the only buyer who was loyal and respectful to the farmers hard work. So he refused to lower his prices in order to keep sustainable the efforts of the local growers. During this time period, additional estates were acquired by Don Corrado.
In 1949 the Buonivini vineyards were passed as a dowry to Don Corrado’s daughter Maria and her husband, lawyer Angelo Gurrieri. They embarked on a major transformation: they expanded the vineyards planted to Nero d’Avola, they expanded the wine mill (palmento) and increased their cellar capacity to 1200 hl. They bought another vineyard, Gisira, where they planted citrus trees while implementing a major drainage project. At that time the traditional crops (wine, olive oil and carobs) were replaced with greenhouse farming. Maria and Angelo Gurrieri, jointly with their son Corrado, made sure to keep the traditional vocation of this territory and even increased the vineyards planting 5 ha. with white Muscat, henceforth producing DOC Moscato di Noto.
In 1990 these properties were passed to Corrado the current owner, whom, with the precious help of his wife Valeria, have been carrying out a medium to long-term re-organization of the winery featuring:
- State-of-the art farming techniques of certified organic grapes vineyards;
- A cyclical renewal process of the vineyards with the latest agricultural methods and within the respect of the territory’s vocation;
- Increasing and rationalizing the planting of the olive trees orchards;
- Purchasing additional surrounding properties renowned for the high standards their grapes;
- Remodelling the original building, the surrounding rural houses and the warehouse;
- Buying a small oil mill, for the family’s own use only.
2002 has been another year of major recognitions. Thanks to the support of friends and the journalist Cristoforo von Ritter we started the production and the bottling of the first DOC Eloro Nero d’Avola La Favola wine, whose label is the result of Franca von Ritter’s creative spirit.
Today, after four generations and 200 years of history, Tenuta La Favola is a well established, internationally renowned company that can boast:
- Italian and Swiss organic certifications;
- Experimental fields using biodiversity;
- A photovoltaic system generating renewable energy;
- A multicultural artists’ residences project made possible through the Bridge Art organization.
IN THE MOST SOUTHERN TIP OF ITALY
TENUTA LA FAVOLA is located in an important area between Pachino and Rosolini, just ten minutes from the most beautiful beaches of southeast Sicily. To the north you can see the plume of smoke rising above Mount Etna, and to the south the blue of the Mediterranean and Ionian seas. The paths between the vines are white with limestone and at night when the moon shines, the land does too.