When I met Luca Marconi two years ago at the Valpanera Winery in Italy, I knew I was in good company. 

From the way he presented each section of the winery on my personal tour, to his descriptions of the bottling process and where and how the wine is stored. I was also given a peek at the vintages. Definitely one way to make this bella feel special.

There is no doubt that Luca is very impassioned with his work as is evidenced in the way he treats the vines like his children; of which he and his wife have two (real life ones), Martino and Sofie.

Luca’s journey into winemaking was no mistake. His father was one of the most successful enologists in Friuli Venezia Giulia and so Luca was exposed to this particular way of life from an early age. The youngest of three, Luca and his brothers used to compete against each other to see who would cultivate the best wine. As Luca so deftly put it, ‘This passion for wine runs through my blood.’

Two out of the three Marconi brothers now work with wine, while the other’s path led him into the ingenious world of Information Technology.

Luca’s journey with Valpanera began in 2001 and he hasn’t looked back since.

Talking about his experience, he recalls the worst and best harvests he has experienced, the latter coming in 2001 when his Refosco Riserva and Alma both won gold medals at one of the most prestigious wine contests, the ‘Concours Mondial de Bruxelles’ (World Competition in Brussels). It was a great year as Luca fondly remembers: ‘I’ve never received so many phone calls and congratulations like I did from the wine making board here in Friuli.’

But the tables turned in 2004 when the quality of the grapes was bad due to horrible weather conditions and everything had to be thrown away. These are some of the pros and cons of life at a vineyard.

Luca loves to make his autochthonous wines- simply put, those whose grape varieties originated in Italy. He has become an expert in the zone with regards to Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso and many a Fruili local will admit that the best Refosco dal Aquileia DOC is produced at Valpanera Winery. I can attest to that, as we tasted the 2014 Refosco. It was fantastic.

His current challenge is to make a great white wine with enough longevity to be stored and enjoyed with some great local fish. Mmmm, I’ll gladly wait in line for that!

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