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  • Writer's pictureStefania Gioia

Terpin, the Farmer who Loves Natural Wine

In the charming Collio hills, 30 years ago Franco Terpin started to work with natural methods, listening to the nature's messages, waiting patiently for the perfect season.

Since he turned 50, Franco Terpin started to count backwards, heading straight to a wise youthfulness: a vigorous, strict farmer, he knows well that self-irony is the spice of life.

Born and raised in the charming Collio Goriziano, still a child he learned to work as a farmer along with his numerous brothers. His father and grandfather taught him to love the land he finally inherited in San Floriano, right southeast of Friuli Venezia Giulia, on the wild border between Italia and Slovenia.

This region, where grapes and cherries grow in abundance, is historically linked to the wine production: already in the 3rd century a.C. Romans used to appreciate the exquisite wine from this area, while later it was recognized as a prestigious product by the Serenissima Republic of Venezia and the tsar of Russia, among the others.

Rolling hills, extensive forests and cultivated vineyards have been the constant scenery for Franco, who grew up in full symbiosis with the environment, watching the seasons change and listening to the surrounding nature’s messages. This extraordinary sensitivity brought him to focus, in the 90’s, on the natural methods, in order to produce wines that have none or very little sulphite and are macerated for a long period using only natural yeast.

Given the possibility to adjust the product with chemical interventions, choosing this challenging path at that time must have seemed very strange to most winemakers. But Terpin, who aimed at quality rather than quantity, kept thinning the bunches, favouring spontaneous grassing, generating biological diversity. After all, in a small frontier territory, diversity is richness.

“Sometimes - he says bluntly - following nature’s disruptions and unexpected changes is not easy. In 1929, for example, an incredible frost massively killed vines and fruit trees in Collio. More recently, 2008 was one of the most miserable vintages. In these cases, all we can do is respect the soil, listen to the winds, deeply breath and wait for a better time to come. Making wine takes a lot of patience, and might also be painful. But - he adds - this is a frontier land: people who inhabit it went personally through the First and Second World Wars, experimenting the conflict on the front line. I assume we are toughened, or just more inclined to adapt…”.

These days, Terpin’s Ribolla Gialla, Jakot, Stamas Rosso and Sialis bianco are among the most appreciated of the Collio region. Either following his example or walking their own path, many other local producers grow biologically, creating a wine that reflects more and more the features of the land: elegant, full-bodied, savoury, scented, aged yet fresh.

Franco doesn’t care much about awards and prestigious guides’ mentions. You can tell, he really doesn’t care. When it’s harvesting time he gathers family, relatives and friends. They work together with no rush, as the work has to be a pleasure: the vineyard listens, the vineyard understands…

Have a Glass in Venice is proud and happy to include Franco Terpin’s winery in its Wine Region Tours.

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