The day I spent at Azienda Agricola Amerighi in Cortona (AR) with Giulia was simply hilarious! A funny woman with a solid wine background who lived for several years in Australia working in hospitality. The more she gets excited when we talk about Stefano’s wines and his Biodynamic approach, the more I feel we are on the same page for many aspects of life: the relationship between wine and land; the importance of travelling and appreciating other cultures; the love for a rediscovered Italy after the years spent abroad; and a shared vision of the role of women have in wine and hospitality industries.
This is when I start with my 3 questions.
How is Italy approaching to the Biodynamic movement?
In the last 10 years, the biodynamic movement has exploded. Some people do it because it’s trendy, others because of a full awareness of it. This has increased especially after the 70’s when conventional agriculture, which used and abuse chemicals, ruined and contaminated the soils. We were one of the pioneer estates in Cortona to use biodynamic practises in 2001. At the beginning, it was very difficult. Stefano had to face a lot of adversities including the locals who thought he was a FOOL! When you embrace the biodynamic system, you abandon the idea of making a profit by damaging the soil and you actually begin respecting the vine. The biodynamic practice is like homeopathy. At Stefano’s we don’t use chemicals at all. At times, we use copper or sulphur for the most dangerous of diseases but otherwise we only use excrements from our cows to give longevity and vitality to the soils, herbs infusions to make the plant stronger and biodiversity to avoid mono-cultivations that we obtain by planting olive trees. We are also lucky to be quite isolated so we don’t have the risk to be contaminated by neighbours who might practise conventional agriculture.
How did you decide to come and work for Stefano Amerighi?
I left home when I was 19 years old. Being so far from my family for such long time made me appreciate my roots which is eventually why I felt called back to Italy. My experience abroad allowed me to value the passion for life and the love for land which we feel so strongly in this country. I studied at the University of Pisa and became more familiar with the biodynamic approach and when I met Stefano, I fell in love with his wines and his ideology. Working here has completely changed my idea of wine and I feel very fortunate and happy to be a part of it.
How do you feel to be a woman in a men-dominated industry?
Sometimes it’s difficult because you stumble upon a wall of prejudices. The role of the woman is still seen as either housewife or office assistant. Especially when I take part at wine fairs, I’m never seen as the one who actually makes the wine along with Stefano but rather his assistant, his wife or the person who’s pouring the glasses! Luckily this vision is slowly changing and evolving.