Amalfi’s Heroic Vineyards

For quite some time now I have been fascinated with vineyards that are known as extreme or heroic. Extreme wines are made from grapes that are grown in awkward, harsh, or impossible areas where their vines are planted on tiny plots, grown on the backs of rocks, or/and survivors of phylloxera. Areas such as Cinque Terre and the Amalfi coast are home to some of these heroic vineyards.

Back in August I had the chance to visit one! Marisa Cuomo Winery, in Furore, is about 500 meters above sea level and has vines that run along the cliffs of Amalfi overlooking the sea. Vineyards such as these take incredible determination, meticulous work, and lots of love!

Fascinating vineyard, unbelievable views, and delicious food! At times you couldn’t tell where the sea ended and the sky began!!

Unique in the world, the winery uses a planting arrangement against the wall, using the pergola vine-training system on the age-old terraces of Furore. Marisa and Andrea Ferraioli, along with their children Raffaele and Dorotea, are accompanied in the wine world by their dear friend, Professor Luigi Moio, one of Italy’s finest oenologists and university professors specialized in the sector. The wines are stored in the darkness and silence of the splendid barrel cellar dug into the rock of the coast, with temperatures and humidity that remain constant all year round.

Forore’s vineyards are cultivated in Dolomitic soil, using the pergola wine-training system, on terraces overlooking the sea, supported by dry stone walls called “macerine.” Meticulous work is carried out with commitment and fatigue, in an extreme environment where the vines that cling onto the rock are exposed to the sun and the salt of the Mediterranean. The grape varieties represent a unique ampelographic heritage and are all native to these beautiful places, which are their perfect habitat.

The Grape Varieties

White Grapes

  • Biancolella: a very old grape variety, popular on the islands and on the coast of the Campania region
  • Falanghina: the most widespread white grape variety in the Campania region
  • Fenile: found only in Furore, it owes its name to the golden color of the grapes
  • Ripoli: not a very fertile variety, but characterized by elegant aromas, found only in Furore
  • Ginestra: also known as Bianca Zita, it is popular along the entire Amalfi Coast

Red Grapes

  • Aglianico: the oldest and most noble grape variety in Southern Italy
  • Piedirosso: also known as Per’e Palummo, it is very popular throughout the Campania region
  • Sciascinoso: not very fertile, but capable of conveying good structure to wines
  • Tronto: found only in Furore

Try a wine and taste the real flavor of the land where it’s made. Furore, clinging onto the slopes of the Divina Costiera, breathes in all the charm of the Maritime Republic. A sort of Neverland. Don’t look for a ring of houses standing round a square. You won’t find it. Furore, with its houses scattered on the slopes of the mountain, dropping sheer down to the sea, offers tiny samples of itself, allowing itself to be discovered with flirtatious bashfulness. You will walk along paths squeezed between small plots of land claimed miraculously from the rock and cultivated with age-old love, almost stubbornly. You will drink fresh and lively wines, capable of filling you with all the sunshine and joyfulness possible. You will admire vineyards and gardens, terraces and pergolas, hillocks and bending roads that plunge down to the sea. And walls, dry stone walls. Painted walls. Illustrated walls. Speaking walls. Artistic walls. And churches. And tall bell towers. And Arab-influenced domes. A vortex of panoramas bathed in gentile light, silent, unreal and secret, just like a fairy-tale. You will listen to the silence. You will capture the breath of the universe in the distant voice of the sea. You will sense the perfume of myth in the breath of a nymph who’s in love and has always inhabited these ravines. You will live in a dreamy, yet disturbing atmosphere, where every glance is an emotion and every thought is a dream.

Raffaele Ferraioli


Lindsay View All →

Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!

2 Comments Leave a comment

    • Thank you! I do seem to post a lot on wine, haha. I figure this is one of the best places in the world to learn about wine so I’m soaking up as much of it as I can while living here! I much prefer wine to beer 🙂

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