From the Globe and Mail: Turning a new leaf in an ancient land.
To visitors, Pompeii is a fascinating outdoor museum in the form of a dead city.
To Italy’s Mastroberardino wine family, Pompeii is alive and productive.
It is late afternoon on a hot, dusty day in July. I am standing in the welcome shade of the Foro Boario, one of five Pompeii vineyards brought back to life by the Mastroberardinos to make a modern version of an ancient wine.
Behind me is Pompeii’s remarkably intact amphitheatre. In front is Mount Vesuvius, whose eruption in 79 AD buried the city in volcanic ash and pumice. Pompeii vanished; so did one of the Roman Empire’s great winemaking centres.
In 1996, when the Mastroberardinos were asked by local authorities to recreate Pompeii’s vineyards and cultivate the grapes as was done two millennia ago, the family had been producing quality wines from local grapes in the Naples area for 10 generations.
To the Superintendency of Pompeii, reviving the vineyards was a way to breathe some life into a decaying archeological site. For the Mastroberardinos, led by president and chief winemaker Piero Mastroberardino, 40, it was a chance to learn more about historic Italian grapes. [continue]