By Stephanie Cuadra
September 3, 2018 – A week has passed since 2.5 acres of Aglianico del Vulture from Giovanna Paternoster’s Quarta Generazione estate in Barile (Basilicata)—amounting to 50% of her winery’s total organic grape production—were deliberately destroyed by apparently professional hands. The grim discovery, made by Giovanna’s father Sergio on the morning of August 27th, of severed vine wires forcing row after row of slow-ripening fruit to the ground two months ahead of harvest, has only just begun to send shockwaves through the winemaking community on Mt. Vulture, an extinct volcano which last erupted tens of thousands of years ago.
It is not my place to report the incident in every detail, nor to editorialize the moral and material offense perpetrated against a newly founded winery, with whom I happen to collaborate. Suffice it to say the case is in the hands of local authorities who will certainly seek out justice on behalf of Giovanna and her family in due time. Nevertheless, we each have a duty to sound the alarm about vile and cowardly acts which insult the dignity of our entire industry.
“For a winery as small and as young as ours, it is a terrible loss—one clearly intended to bring us to our knees. But that is not going to happen,” says Giovanna. “I am deeply grateful to my father’s longtime collaborators who have volunteered their time and expertise to help us salvage anything that can still be salvaged. It’s not that simple, however. There are materials to buy, lost production to consider and, needless to say, there is trust to rebuild.”