How wine making is supposed to be

Imagine a wine producer who is willing to risk not producing a vintage so to follow mother nature’s course in determining the fate of his wines. It seems a thing of the past… or not?

Sometimes you arrive to the point of your wine appreciation journey whereby you see through the modern techniques used by many of today’s wine makers who strive to match the expectations of the mass market instead  seek out wines that are exposed truly to how mother  nature dictates.

If this is you, you need to check out Podere San Michele,  in the western coastal area of Tuscany known as Maremma. I’ve had the pleasure  of meeting twice with one of the Socci family members, Giorgio, whose passion for wine just oozes out the moment you start talking to him about his family’s wines. Podere San Michele is in an Etruscan area which was the civilization prior to the Romans and known for its wine making.  This tradition seemed to literally pass to the Socci family’s roots who through the generations have followed a natural approach to wine making. They fully embrace the terroir and what nature brings forth, from the vineyard to the wine cellar, such as avoiding pesticides, fertilizers, wooden barrel fermentation and any additive, from yeast to sulfites, so to not interfere with nature’s course in creating the wine.  The Socci’s have identified similarities of its vineyard to the French Rhone valley area, such as the climate and a rich mineral soil, and in fact their most impressive wines known from the Rhone valley: a Syrah and a Voignier.  The Alaterno Syrah is my favorite, a fruity, minerally Syrah which is smooth and bursting with flavour, great with food or on its own.

Podere San Michele's Alaterno Syrah 2010

Podere San Michele’s Alaterno Syrah 2010

Plus you’ll find when drinkimg this wine, or any from Podere San Michele, that you don’t have the negative after-effects of wine drinking, i.e., a headache, so your body and mind also reap the benefits from the Socci’s commitment to a natural approach to wine making.

In Maremma not far from Podere San Michele is my friend Andrea Valurta’s olive tree farm where  he follows a similar philosphy in making his olive oil ‘Olio la quota di Setulio’ at Podere San Giovanni in Baccinello di Scansano, in the comune of Grosseto.  He takes great care to produce an olive oil that is full bodied yet delicate.

Besides eating and drinking, Maremma is a  great place to relax and explore – be sure to add it to your bucket list of places to visit!


Maremma Nov 2014

Ciao for now,

Sheila Donohue


2 Responses to “How wine making is supposed to be”

  1. Clark Smith Says:

    These guys sound great. Yet I imagine that if you ask them if “not producing a vintage” is “the way winemaking is supposed to be,” they might just demur.

    The plain fact is that the “many of today’s winemakers who who strive to match the expectations of the mass market” constitute less than 1% of my colleagues who are working for the 250 or so national brands. The other 99% make extremely small amounts of wines that strive for diversity and uniqueness in order to build personal connections with their tiny (often local) following.

    If you are located in sunny Tuscany and have worked out the fine points over a thousand years, it’s easy to follow the practices of la dolce vita you describe, and Lord love them for it.

    The real heroes, in my view, are the Mom and Pop in Des Moines who sold all but 3 acres of the family farm to Cargill ten years ago and are experimenting with a few hundred cases of La Crescent, Brianna and Marquette at 40 below zero, literally betting the farm on something that’s never been done before. This is the story of the 100 or so new wineries established in Iowa in the last decade.

    Most U.S. States have similar untold stories. If they want to use a little technology to stay alive, I think the Lord will love them too. I hope you will not scoff at their efforts.

    • sheilad Says:

      Thanks for sharing about Des Moines wine producers who, like Podere San Michele, are one of many untold stories of small producers with each having its own philosphy of winemaking influenced by terrior, history, etc. This aspect makes wine-tasting interesting and enjoyable since its the consumers, like myself, which benefit from a wide range of different wines to explore.

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