European Food Summit - EFS: Women in Wine Mateja Gravner, Chiara De Iulis Pepe, Laura Di Collobiano

EFS: Women in Wine Mateja Gravner, Chiara De Iulis Pepe, Laura Di Collobiano

Ljubljana, 20. 10. 2022

Mateja Gravner, Chiara De Iulis Pepe and Laura Di Collobiano can definitely tell you a thing or two not just about wine and winemaking in Italy, but also about keeping a legacy of a renowned family run wineries, all three associated with big label wines in high demand throughout the world, but also firmly committed to organic production.

Mateja Gravner is the one in charge of Gravner wines, winery with which her father Joško Gravner put Oslavie on the map (alongside some other excellent winemakers on the border with Slovenia) – and also put amber wines on the map. Gravner is considered one of the pioneers of biodynamic winemaking in this part of the world and also the one who started producing wine in amphoras – or qvevri as they are called in Georgia where Gravner got inspired the most.

Oslavie, in the past 30 years, has become a hub for this type of wines, a tiny border hamlet that has become synonymous with natural and skin-contact wine movement. Gravner, Radikon, Prinčič … Winemakers with Slovenian names, but “Made in Italy” label. Border wines. Visiting Gravner is like visiting a temple, everything stripped down to bare essentials, done with meticulous perfection. Meditation wine, they call it.

 Joško is very serious about it and Mateja is continuing this legacy, keeping the Gravner name intact, making sure also the wine, this beautiful amber, liquid gold almost, comes to the right hands.

If Mateja Gravner is a name you associate with Collio, the same can be said about Chiara De Iulis Pepe for Abruzzo. Chiara is the fifth generation at the estate Emidio Pepe, iconic winery that is now regarded as one of the very best in Italy, especially when it comes to Montepulciano.

It was Chiara's grandfather Emidio who really took the artisanal approach to winemaking and his granddaughter learned the ropes from both him and her father, all the while avoiding the use of modern technologies and approaches. At Emidio Pepe not a lot has changed from Emidio's days – they still crush the grapes with their feet and work with the traditional pergola vine training system.

Grapes are grown biodynamically, hand-harvested, hand-destemmed, naturally fermented and aged 18-24 months in glass-lined concrete tanks. The wines are bottled unfiltered, without added Sulphur. It’s not part of the trend, it’s how they have always produced wines here at Emidio Pepe – and have never changed, not since more than half a century ago when Chiara's grandfather started doing all spontaneous fermentation, never filtering, never adding massive quantities of sulfites, as she explains.

From Abruzzo we move on to Tuscany with Laura Di Collobiano, the woman who for the past 30 years has been, together with her husband Moreno Petrini, behind Valgiano, an acclaimed Tuscan vineyard. Valgiano has defined a totally new era for the production of this particular microclimate, all the while fully respecting the tradition. 

Following the teachings of Australian biodynamic pioneer Alex Podolinsky Tenuta di Valgiano converted to biodynamic agriculture in 2001 and now produce around 80,000 bottles from its 25 hectares. They practice low intervention winemaking and biodynamic horn manure preparation known as "500" to keep the vines healthy. Grapes are sorted by hand before being crushed first by foot. The wines are bottled unfiltered.  

Tenuta Valgiano has been a wine estate since the 16th century, and some of the buildings are almost as old as the estate. The farm covers 40 hectares, 16 of which are vineyards, and another 13 are home to honeybees and olive trees, which produce outstanding olive oil and honey.