While reading some blog posts on various sites, I was especially drawn to linger on the one at Intravino, which talks about my old childhood friend, Paolo Veglio, a young and tenacious Barbaresco producer. The post identifies him as one of the few young farmers in Langhe. Without detracting from Paolo’s courage and merit, I realized that the words used to define young Langa wine producers are quite confused and imprecise. People say that the producers are no longer what they once were, that they are now dandy vignerons, those organic hippies, the industrialist farmers. One franticly searches for real agriculturalists, the ones who work in the fields from morning to night, and one complains that Macedonian day labourers are becoming the real new Langa farmers.
Langa farmers are no longer what they once were and perhaps this is a good thing. From this view point I would like to clarify three concepts:
1) the farm worker of the past no longer exists; we are all agricultural entrepreneurs who work the land either directly or indirectly, there is more culture, and ignorance is no longer permissible. One uses the internet and we are connected to the world, this perhaps makes the figure of the farmer less romantic, but certainly more responsible for what he does, says and uses. The agricultural entrepreneur knows foreign languages and while traveling learns how to handle different realities and problems, reducing the habit of perennially making fun of institutions against them;
2) I, too, am annoyed by wine producers who do not love getting their hands dirty, but what counts most of all is their seriousness, quality and their responsibility for the land they cultivate;
3) I do not judge my peers who are the sons of competing wine producers, but I can say with certainty that the most capable are those who grew up with the business, really breathed and did it; those who arrive at 30 years old with multiple degrees, without even knowing where their properties are, reveal great fragility and vulnerability.
I was not born to a farming family. I was born to a family of small-scale wine-producing entrepreneurs , and for this I must give double thanks because if my brother and I are continuing to move forward in this line of work it is because we have been “in” it since we were very little, all of the hard work in the countryside, that of the winemaking cellar and that of an intellectual, physical and bureaucratic nature. Perhaps we no longer do all of this work systematically, but we know what it means to do it; normally all that one learns easily from a young age. To become a colonel, one must first be a corporal, a lieutenant and a captain.
I would like to conclude with my thoughts about the substantial difference between the older generation of wine producers and my own: the young, thank heavens, no longer nurture the envy among producers that created impossibility of communication and difficulty of group organization. Instead, they have less of the grit and “sport meanness” of their fathers, perhaps due to an excess of comfort, which, when there is too much of it, can make us go soft in the head.…