The terraces that wrap around most of the island are testimony to Giglio’s long history of winemaking. Grapes were grown on these terraces starting in pre-Roman times. The remains of terracotta amphorae, and large granite ‘palmenti’ for preparing wine can still be seen in many vineyards. Today, only a small portion of the terraces are cultivated. Cesare Scarfo’ has rescued several old-vine vineyards, some of which had been abandoned for years and were in danger of being lost forever. The gnarled, twisted trunks of the old vines now have the possibility to grow and flourish, and their grapes pay homage the winemakers who worked the soil over the many decades.
Organic & Sustainable Farming
The vineyards are cultivated by hand, often only with use of a hoe. Working the soil and treatments are carried out using organic, ecologically sustainable practices. Wild herbs, native grasses and small plants are often grown in the vineyard and then gently tilled under to enrich and soften the soil. The soil composition of the island tends to be sandy and rich in minerals.
The Grape Vines
The vines are cultivated and pruned using the ‘head-trained’ system or "alberello", a typical practice of the ancient Mediterranean tradition. The head-trained vines lend themselves to a low to moderate production of high-quality grapes. Cesare learned this technique from Salvo Foti, a winemaker who cultivates his vineyards on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily.
Following island tradition, harvest takes place after the 15th of September and the famous celebration of Saint Mamilian. The late harvest ensures that the grapes have reached full maturity and are rich in sugar and aromas. The skins of the ansonica grapes demonstrate a sun-kissed appearance and appear dark amber in color. The harvest takes place over the course of two days with the help of other local winemakers and friends. Grape bunches are picked by hand and gently placed into crates which are then carried on the shoulders of the strongest members of the harvest crew up the steep trails. When the must is safe in the cellar at the Castle, the participants gather together for a snack of fresh bread, salami, ham, cheese, salted anchovies and of course, a glass of vino.