Return to the origins in the name of love, family and terroir.
In short, this is the mantra of the romantic and visionary Alberto Longo and his Cantine di Terravecchia in Puglia, where time stands still and sunlight embraces vineyards, olive groves, plants, flowers and ancient farming houses that still now safeguard his story of protection.
The same concept is reflected in his wine, Cacc’e Mmitte, whose name literally means ‘take out and put in’ because in the past the vinification took place in wineries used by many farmers. They had to be quick to make the wine in order to move on to the next person waiting in line to use the equipment.
As soon as we arrive in northern Puglia, in Daunia, the landscape gets flat and extremely picturesque. It could be a setting for a late ‘50s Italian film, with trees, flocks of sheep, abandoned houses and endless fields.
We arrive in Lucera, in the middle of an area rich in environmental and historical sites. Inhabited since Paleolithic times and developed by Aegean people, their culture left many traces. Then in the 3rd century BC, Daunia became a Roman province with Lucera its main town. The advent of the Swabians in the 12th century AD, and especially the love of their most important Emperor Frederick II for this land, made Daunia a privileged residence of the court at that time.
In this historical context of extraordinary value, Cantine di Terravecchia has its roots. The word “Welcome” has a special meaning here and as soon as we arrive we feel it is going to be unique.
Alberto is there to guide us through the vineyards, take us into the winery and taste the wines, but the real gift is his father Giovanni. Dressed for a party, his voice and his words tell a story of commitment and hard work, resistance and big celebrations among friends and family. His eyes go to his son who was the one that believed in the same values as he did. Thanks to Alberto’s vision, the Longo story in this special place lives on.
Everything started last century with a love story.
Adele used to travel from her home, a small town called Pietralta in the province of Teramo, Abruzzo, with her mother and father during the seasonal movement of more than 600 sheep between the mountains and lowland pastures. Through snow, windy fields, empty lands, they used to walk, by night and day, for almost two weeks to arrive at Lucera, a warmer home for the winter.
Here Giovanni used to work the land, his hands were strong and powerful, planting vegetables, cultivating grapes, sustaining the family thanks to agriculture.
These two young farmers met and fall in love in these sunny plains.
No matter the distance, their families that were in two different regions, the war, the resistance afterwards, the poverty, and a life of sacrifice, love kept them together and today they can still witness this sense of family and union.
Alberto, their son, is the natural product of this story and of the value of his home territory.
After a life spent consulting for big companies, his calling brought him back to his origins and he is now one of the most representative winemakers in the whole region.
With an area of 35 hectares of well-groomed vineyards, the headquarters of Alberto Longo are located in an old farmhouse called Cavalli, dating back to the year 1800. Subject to a complete renovation in the last few years, the building uses the latest winemaking technology. We are allowed to enjoy an environment that combines aesthetic appeal with the energy of such a rich history.
At 450 meters asl, eight hectares of vineyards are around this Fattoria Cavalli in the “Cacc’e Mmitte di Lucera” DOC area and the remaining are near the 17th century Masseria Celentano, the superb agriturismo nearby that is hosting us overnight.
Native vines like Negroamaro, Montepulciano, Falanghina, Bombino Bianco, Primitivo and Nero di Troia find home here, together with other international varieties like Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc.
The wines of Cantine di Terravecchia are the result of Alberto Longo's strong determination to enhance the image of and gain recognition for a certain land, the 'Daunia'. Origins and territory, this is what it’s all about for him.
It’s sunset and we go to Masseria Celentano before it is too late to walk through the fruit trees, have a glimpse of such an inspiring place that gets golden with the sunlight, and meet Alberto’s mother, Adele. She is cooking for us, as she did for Giovanni after hard days of working in the fields for so many years. Alberto shares with us that right where we are, this Masseria was the cradle of love of his parents and after many years of hard work he could buy that property to turn it into a beautifully integrated agriturismo. The walls ooze humility, love, passion and commitment, not to mention the wonderful aromas from the kitchen!
As Adele cooks, she can’t stop sharing her memories as well as her tricks about good bread or olive oil. Prosciutto, pane casereccio and mozzarella di bufala from a nearby farm are ready, ‘Vallirosa’ Negramaro Rosato in the glasses and we let this movie start.
Citerna (100% Uva di Troia) comes next, intriguing, rich and fascinating, then Pampana, spicy, big and austere, and finally the must-have, ‘Ricaccio’ Cacc'e Mmitte di Lucera.
This is one of the best interpretations of this wine from Puglia, strictly linked to its farming roots and to typical masserie. Its intense notes of spices and red fruits together with its round, harmonic and energetic taste make Ricaccio the perfect summary of this story: long lasting, intense and deep. A sip to life.
Next comes the 1st and 2nd courses. Orecchiette con cime di rapa, a typical delicous pasta with turnip tops, coniglio (rabbit) alla pizzaiola in padella and chicory seem to us an extraordinary meal, served with love and extreme care for the guests by Mamma Adele. She and Giovanni hold court sharing unbelievable war stories about how their families helped needy people escaping from death and locals that were looking for shelter. We feel lucky listening to these vivid accounts of such difficult times. To give the complete picture of their life, Giovanni also emotionally recalls huge parties and weddings, moments that put big smiles on our faces.
Nocino, mandarino and dessert with ricotta conclude our fantastic meal, just as sweet as the two proud parents hosting us. Like Alberto Longo’s wines, deeply and truly representative of an area where it’s about much more than wine, it becomes a love story.
The following morning we wake up in this paradise embraced by a golden light filtering through restored doors and windows - a light that veils the white and champagne stones of the floors and buildings like a silk vest over an elegant woman. Like curious and excited kids we jump out of bed to breathe such a treat and impress our memory like it happened with Alberto many years ago. Masseria Celentano is in its best shape, its vintage furniture tell us so many stories and the eyes cannot but look for the next detail, whether it's a texture, a colour, a decor, or simply a material or a natural element, that safeguards a secret and now all together with these open heart people builds an everlasting scene.
Come and visit this astonighing place where people, wines, souls and stories are enough to fall in love with it all.