The Masseria, founded in 1595

The Antica Masseria Venditti, a family business, adopts as its symbol the family residence which dates back to 1595, situated in the Castelvenere territory. Built on Lombard foundations, it was used by our ancestors as a winter home because of the proximity to cultivable lands. Here, memories are cherished.

Situated near a Basilian Temple, as tradition dictates, Saint Barbato, Benevento’s Bishop,  was born here in 602 a.D., remembered for having converted Lombards to Christianity. Because of its fertile land, it became a cellar for the Benedettini monks, made for the production of foodstuffs in order to supply Abbeys, contributing to the growth and winemaking history of the territory. Most of the production was reserved for wine, a precious and essential good for everyday’s work.

It serves as a testimony a majestic winepress, named “Plinio’s winepress”, jealously guarded.

The 1950's

Thanks to a peculiar microclimate, here were born the most iconic grape types as the falanghina, grieco, cerreto, coda di volpe, barbera, aglianico, montepulciano, piedirosso, guarded by cherry trees, chestnut trees, walnut trees, oaks and olive trees. It was in the middle of the last century that Sir Pasquale Venditti and his wife Maria replanted these ancient vines, diligently following nature’s rhythms. This then started a long journey through time and, through Castelvenere’s hills, through the territories where our wines were born and from which they take their name, in recovery of the indigenous varieties, with the idea in mind of making wines solely on his land.

Sir Pasquale Venditti

From the 1980’s to today

The innovative breakthrough comes in the 1980’s when it’s up to Nicola, oenologist, with competence that comes from years of professional preparation and direct experience, firmly believing in his ideas and his self-confidence. He bets on organic products, on further researchers and experimentation on the recovery and development of autochthonous vines, convinced of the path to follow. Since then, Nicola Venditti has never taken a break from his work with the vines and the cleaning of the cellar in order to achieve always gratifying results. His mind is always set on tomorrow, making use of the help from Lorenza, his wife, Andrea and Serena, respectively his son and daughter.

The Venditti Family has managed to preserve the memory of the winemakers’ culture, to become a guardian of ancient vines, supporter of organic products, responsible of traditions, in need of keeping this secular tradition alive which brings us in the right direction, hard and difficult but full of satisfactions.

Oenologist Nicola Venditti

The true story of the Barbetta Barbera®

In the second half of the 19th century three severe scourges fell upon the viticulture: Powdery mildew, downy mildew and phylloxera. Phylloxera caused the destruction of most of the italian and european vineyards and consequently, the demand for wine grew higher. The government, with exceptional speed, established the so called “itinerant chairs” (“cattedre ambulanti” in Italian) to teach farmers how to correctly cultivate vines. “Experimental vineyards” were created where, using wild american rootstocks, the saved varieties of vines were rooted again. In the Telesina Valley were implanted three experimental vineyards one of which in Castelvenere, on the soil of a Venditti ancestor. The breeding system was very similar to today’s Guyot. Between the varied types of grapes there was one which was particularly good according to vintners and especially the winemakers of that time. It was a red grape which produced a very colourful wine and lent itself better the “colouring of white grapes” and gave structure to the other wines produced with non endowed grapes.

It was then identified as “Venditti’s grapes”, nicknamed “Barbetta” because of the beard he used to have.

From this, it became “Barbetta’s grapes” and then simply “grape Barbetta”. It then eventually evolved from “Barbetta” to “Barbera”. It’s important to keep in mind that around the 50’s a new type of vine raged through Italy, suitable for making a quality wine, therefore easily marketable: the “Barbera”, precisely. However the local winegrowers, convinced that their Barbetta couldn’t be outdone by the national Barbera, explained to wine and grape buyers that the real Barbera vines where the ones they were growing. The old Barbetta turned into the Barbera and was officially acknowledged and shown as an indigenous copy of the “Sannio” region.

The Barbera coming from other regions didn’t provide the same results as the local Barbera, because it was a peculiar vine which could only partially express its real potential in the Sannio region of Benevento. Therefore, the cultivation of the national Barbera was eventually halted and, at the same time, because of a lack in rooted grafts grafted with the local Barbera, this vine wasn’t planted anymore.

With great tenacity, passion and faith, the Old Masseria Venditti has continued to cultivate vines of the old Barbera whose gems were taken from Castelvenere’s experimental camps and grafted in the wild, in a vineyard, in 1968.

After many eventful years, the Barbera is finally back on the scene with a “CRU” production and along with it its original name “Barbetta®

 

Prof. Pasquale Palma – 1999

Sir Pasquale Venditti in Barbera Experimental Vineyard - Photo Dr. Sciarra - 1935 - Museo del Sannio of Benevento