Liguria, the crescent-shaped strip of a region that arcs from Tuscany to France and separates Piemonte from the Mediterranean Ocean, is a mountainous land of beautiful but often rugged beaches, spectacular seafood and vegetables, and yes, wine. Most visitors get their first glimpse of Liguria by speeding along the A10 autostrada, ducking into and out of tunnels carved into the steep, coastal mountains perched just above the sparkling sea below. As you drive from Genoa towards France in Liguria Ponente (western Liguria, or the Liguria of the Setting Sun), you see vineyards on your left, below the autostrada. But if you take the exit at the coastal town of Albenga and head uphill instead of down to the sea, you wind your way steeply up into an utterly different world from the seaside resorts and vines.
It’s here, in the tiny village of Vendone, 12 kilometers inland and 300 meters above the sea, that Ettore and Natalina Vio planted vines and olive trees amidst the mountain scrub in the 1970s. Their son Claudio and his wife, Maria Grazia, now tend the family farm. A dispersed patchwork of tiny, terraced vineyard plots adding up to just two hectares — mostly Pigato, with a little Vermentino — yield just enough wine for us to bring in a few hundred cases a year. A hectare of olive orchards gives even less of their beautifully delicate olive oil. (Ask us nicely, and we might be able to get you a little.)
Farming is lotta integrata. All harvesting is manual and fermentations are with native yeasts.