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Irpinia Winemaker Spotlight: Daniela & Antonio DeGruttola, Cantina Giardino

When Daniela and Antonio started out over 20+ years ago with a few of their friends, most people thought they were nuts. Nobody else was really crafting wines without additives and working biologically yet, but they had a vision - one that not everyone bought into right away.

Today, it’s a totally different story. They have a huge worldwide following as they continue to advocate for chemical free wines. Because, duh.

Tell me more:

  • Is natural wine really all it’s cracked up to be? Look - as Antonio will be the first to tell you, natural wine has to be good. It has to be drinkable and enjoyable. You can’t just slap a label on the bottle, call it natural, and not think about how the final product will be enjoyed by those opening the bottles. So, just like wines you’ll find in all the magazines, it really depends on personal taste and the quality of the winemaker.

  • Tell me a little more about natural wines. I made the decision to work exclusively with wineries who are totally biologically in the vineyards and their “cantinas” after I was SHOCKED by how chemicals that are labeled as poison by the FDA are allowed to be used in the winemaking process. That was the last straw for me. So instead, I seek out winemakers who are working like maniacs to grow grapes the way their ancestors did, and bringing out the best of every vintage as they come. It takes a lot more time, oodles of patience and determination - but the final result is way worth the effort.

  • Did they face problems being some of the first natural winemakers? Oh you know it. They were told the wine was terrible, no one would ever buy it, and they were questioned constantly for why they would ever want to put in so much work to make their wine when conventional wisdom said to just use herbicides/pesticides in the vineyard and chemicals to “correct” any problems with the wines in the cantina. In fact, Daniela has told me they couldn’t sell even a bottle in their hometown because the idea of what they were doing was so “revolutionary.”

  • So which are some of your favorite bottles? I absolutely go crazy for their Bianco Frizzante, a fan favorite also of the wine club. And their “Adam” Greco is another favorite. Honestly, they’re all so unique 

  • Is it true they’re some of your best friends? Yup! Not only are Antonio and Daniela some of the pioneers of the natural wine movement, they were the American equivalent of the Best Man and Woman when Pupo and I got married. We love spending time together and our wineries even produce some of the only collaborations of wine in Italy.

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