🍷I’m concluding the second series of the Italian Wine Trails & Tales with my own tale about meeting my wine friend, Samuele Bianchi…a very special meeting for a very special reason. Let me explain…
🍷A Winemaker Near Lucca, Tuscany…
Sometime last spring I learned about an innovative and entrepreneurial venture, The Winefathers. My interest was peaked when my fellow Italophile, blogger, and amica, Marilyn Ricci shared so enthusiastically about her visit with her Wine Friends in Basilicata. I read about their project supporting artisanal winemakers in Italy and was immediately compelled to get involved and support them in some way…
Coincidentally, I was going to be traveling to Italy in the fall of 2016 and a big piece of my travel planning revolved around visiting the birth towns of all of my grandparents (which included my maternal grandparents from Tuscany and my paternal grandparents from Sicily).
My maternal grandparents, Giovanni Bertolini and Natalina Lunardi, were born in small hill towns near Lucca in Tuscany. When they immigrated to America, they were destined for Napa, California, where my mother and, eventually, I was born.
I knew I would be visiting their birth towns and, as it turned out, a wonderful synchronicity with this area and The Winefathers unfolded… My grandfather worked in a small local winery in Napa and when I researched The Winefathers site, I found a boutique winemaker, Samuele Bianchi, near Lucca.
I immediately knew that I wanted to reach out, support Samuele and Il Calamaio Vini, and hopefully visit him when I was in Lucca. For me it was bringing part of my roots full circle and an homage to my grandfather…especially because he is committed to cultivating old vines…
🍷 A Little Background About Samuele, My Wine Friend 🍷
“Small Business. Big Passion”
“Una piccola azienda, una granda passione.”
– Samuele Bianchi, Il Calamaio Vini
Samuele is a civil engineer during the day, but his passion is Il Calamaio Vini. In 2003, he fulfilled his dream of owning a vineyard and winery when he bought this picturesque property located in the hills of San Macario, 5 km from Lucca in beautiful Tuscany.
Il Calamaio is relatively small, only two and a half hectare (approximately 6 acres), and had been long neglected. Samuele immediately focused on bringing back the older abandoned vineyards (dating back 30-40 years) as well as planting new cuttings of different Sangiovese clones. In addition, he was able to add a small vineyard of Merlot as well as some Chardonnay and Petite Manseng vines.
In 2009, a new, modern canteen was built and eventually equipped with the machinery to work and produce their wine in the most efficient and ecologically sound way possible.
Il Calamaio Vini is indeed a collaboration of family and friends. They all help when it’s needed, especially during harvest. Everyone comes together to help hand pick the grapes and it’s a harvest party!
🍷Visiting Il Calamaio and Wine Tasting with Samuele 🍷
“Hard work and great passion, this is the recipe.”
-Samuele Bianchi, Il Calamaio Vini
Since he doesn’t live on the property, Samuele met us at the entrance to Il Calamaio on his Harley.
Despite it being the busiest time of the year for a winemaker, the vendemmia (grape harvest), in a few days, Samuele was a gracious host and we enjoyed a very special evening…
We walked through the vineyards as Samuele shared about their history and how he came to Il Calamaio. The vines were heavy with beautiful grapes, ready for hand picking in a few days and ready to begin their metamorphosis…
Samuel then led us to the compact and state-of-the-art production facility – this is where the magic happens!
It’s here that we enjoyed our tasting of Il Calamaio’s three signature wines paired, of course, with Tuscan bread, pecorino cheese, and prosciutto.
We were then introduced to:
🍷Soffio 2015 (Soffio is the word for breeze from the sea)
Chardonnay & Petit Manseng
🍷Poiana 2013 – 100% Sangiovese
…and the grand daddy…
🍷Antenato 2014 – “Vigne Vecchie” -Old Vines
We left with several bottles to enjoy later. What a very special evening…
🍷I’m so proud to support Samuele and the efforts of The Winefathers. I encourage you to do the same. After all, isn’t wine a noble cause?
🍇 Il Calamaio Vini 🍇
vigneti in San Macario, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy…
and become a Wine Friend! You’ll be so glad you did!
🇮🇹 Join these other Italy and vino lovers along the Wine Trail:
🍷This is the end of the Italian Wine Trail for now – I hope you’ve enjoyed joining us on the trail for our tales? Until our next adventure, salute! 🍷