I was on Giglio Island in April early 2000s, to study one of my passions: the Ansonica vine variety.
Early that morning, I was walking alone along a path with a sheer drop into the sea, which leads to the old Capelrosso lighthouse from Giglio Castello. I felt overwhelmed by that peaceful and majestic place. Suddenly, I started hearing fleeting, yet rhythmic sounds from the strip of land between the path and the sea. I moved in that direction to see what it was.
And there, between that path and the cliff, was a tiny vineyard surrounded by Mediterranean shrubland. The Libeccio wind sprayed the waves that were crashing against the cliffs on the vineyard. Could that be what made it thrive in such a small strip of land among the rocks?
A man bent over in the vineyard was cutting a bramble hedge with a rusty old sickle. It was him who was making those sounds. That thorny hedge was trying to make its way back to the place from where it was eradicated many years ago to make room for the vineyard. It mustn’t have been easy back then, especially since they couldn’t use any other equipment because of the steep and difficult terrain. The old man probably inherited the vineyard from his father, who probably inherited it from his father, and so on for who knows how many generations. These islanders sure are jealous about their vineyards. To my eyes, that man who was fighting against the bramble hedge was a hero. I thought he looked very much like Perseus fighting against Medusa. Those thorns were like Medusa’s hair of snakes that regrew every time someone cut them off. The man was trying to cut the root of the bramble hedge, just like Perseus tried to behead Medusa. In the end, Perseus won his battle and proudly held up Medusa’s head. But that poor old man will never really win his because the bramble hedge will keep regrowing around his small vineyard. This never-ending battle will continue until there aren’t any people willing to sacrifice themselves left. The day we’ll abandon this country’s traditions, because unable to generate profit, will be the day when we’ll be taken over by bramble hedges. I realised that the man had to fight just as much as Perseus did. At that moment, I understood why it’s called heroic viticulture.
No mechanical equipment, no technology, no pesticides or herbicides. Just hard work and the sea’s salt to defend the vineyard from parasites and diseases.
So, I said to myself “this is the wine I want to make. And I’ll call it Perseo&Medusa.”