‘No chemistry in the vineyard, no technology in the cellar, natural wine’ read many of the label on the bottles of Conestabile della Staffa. For more than 200 years from the 1700s, Conestabile della Staffa produced some of the finest wines in the region but with two world wars came a diminished farming workforce and from 1956, the estate ceased to make anything, forcing the vineyard to sell off their grapes each year over the subsequent decades to make other people’s wine... and then Danilo Marcucci came along.
Former student of architecture and one-time Umbrian wine-seller, Danilo turned to natural winemaking in the early 2000s after discovering first-hand what the chemicals in industrially produced wines can do to the body. A chance tasting of a natural wine made by his parents’ neighbour Vittorio Mattioli began what Danilo describes as a ‘radical change’ in his life and within a week of drinking the amber coloured white he joined Vittorio for what would become the first of many collaborations with masters of natural winemaking across Italy. More than 12 hectares of vines were in need of some love when Danilo took the reigns at Conestabile della Staffa but by 2015 he was able to release the estate’s first vintage in 60 years, using native grapes, natural processes, wild yeast, no temperature control and no added sulphur. For Danilo, it is Mother Nature who determines the wine.