Fate can have lovely consequences. Giampiero Bea made the acquaintance of the Sisters of the Cistercian order living and working at their monastery in Vitorchiano, ninety minutes or so north of Rome in the Lazio district. Here at this quiet religious outpost eighty women of this religious order work vineyards and orchards and gardens organically.
Today, a ravenous US audience eagerly awaits each new release of “the nun wine." Even before Giampiero began helping them gently refine their approach and commercialize their wines—only to the US and Japan, it should be noted—he was struck by the frankness of a white wine produced with almost no technology. In a region rife with highly controlled, highly sulfured concoctions, here was a wine of real character, an unadorned expression of healthy grapes grown in a fascinating volcanic-soiled terroir. Each time we visit with the sisters, we are amazed by their warmth of spirit, their serene energy, and the shockingly spartan nature of their operation. The “winery” is nothing more than a toolshed packed to the gills with old steel tanks, fiberglass containers of various sizes, and glass demijohns tucked here and there—proving yet again that it takes the barest minimum to produce a wine of character and truth.