Del Prete - The Heart of Puglia

5/17/16 -

(Natalino with his daughter, just back from university to join the family business)

Although steel, chemical, manufacturing and high-tech industries are all now part of the Puglian economy, agriculture is still the lifeblood of the region. Hot and flat, with constant sea breezes from both sides of the Salento peninsula, Puglia is an agricultural paradise - producing half of Italy’s olive oil and about 20 percent of the country's wine, (more than any other region / second only to Veneto). Until about twenty years ago Puglia was the center of bulk wine production, but now boasts 4 DOCG, 29 DOC and 6 IGT zones.

Located about 30 minutes outside of Lecce, one of the most beautiful towns in Italy, Del Prete stands as a beacon of natural winemaking in a sea of bulk wine production. The Del Prete family has had these vines for generations, but the patriarch Natalino was the first to really focus on viticulture. Working with just 10 hectares, he mainly grows Primitivo and Negroamaro but also has a small amount of Malvasia Nera and Aleatico. Certified organic since 1994, he doesn’t use any fertilizers or chemicals, and there is minimal plowing and no irrigation.

Stepping into their cellar is like stepping back into time. They are using the same press and concrete tanks that have been in use for decades. There are no bells and whistles, just wine making in its most basic and rustic form. Although they sell out every vintage, they haven’t raised their prices in years and there is no real plan for expansion, perhaps only to buy a couple of more hectares and replant vines as needed. Christine Manula

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