You only need to spend a few minutes with the innovative winegrower Valentina Passalacqua to be enraptured by her smile and curious nature. Valentina is a visionary vigneron who has overcome many challenges in the patriarchal winegrowing world, especially that of southern Italy and Puglia in particular. Her attention to detail in the vineyard, in the cellar and with the people who work side by side with her is that of a motherly nature.
After spending a decade working in business and law in London, Valentina returned home in 2008 in search of a simpler life. She had just welcomed the arrival of her daughter Giulia and wanted to be a role model for her daughter, demonstrating that, even in the male-dominated culture of southern Italy, a woman could independently build a business with an ethical mission, ranging from working in the vineyard to enriching the lives of every person involved in the wine-making process. Natural wine was a natural choice because it is rooted in a philosophy of life that is based on respect for mother earth, for the laws of nature and for every human being.
Valentina set up a farm with EU subsidies for women entrepreneurs in the South of Italy, recognized as a depressed area. She helped to created new job opportunities and integration in the area, thus laying the foundations to build her dream. She and her team cultivate nearly 200 acres using biodynamic principles. She has converted pasture land (thus never contaminated by conventional agriculture) into organically planted and farmed vineyards.
Ten years after tending to the vineyard and producing wine under her eponymous label, Valentina launched ‘Progetto Calcarius’. This label is the result of continuous research and listening the specific limestone-driven terroir leading Valentina to select these specific 62 acres that are the foundation of Calcarius.
The eye-catching labels and transparent glass are the first obvious features of these game-changing wines, but it is the Kimmeridgian limestone soils of the vineyard at the foot of the Gargano mountains that provide the soul of the wines. These soils act like a mirror, reflecting the sun’s rays off the fruit and vines, allowing for an earlier ripening period. This, combined with the salty air from the nearby Adriatic Sea and Valentina’s watchful eye, and harvesting at the optimum time, culminates in wines of freshness, minerality and a saline tone. The wines are elegant and display a reserved confidence, just like the creative force behind them.