On our last day on the Amalfi Coast, Dan and I concluded that
we I had soaked up all the Italian sun our my skin could handle. Thus, we figured we'd do something totally ordinary (not) and hire a driver to take us to Tramonti for a day to visit Tenuta San Francesco's vineyard. Wanting to make the most of the day, we made stops in the towns of Amalfi and Ravello along the way before ultimately ending up at the serene vineyard in Tramonti.
Upon our arrival at Tenuta San Francesco, the vineyard's owner, Gaetano, and his wife, Eva, greeted us with open arms and welcomed us warmly into the tasting room. We quickly learned that Gaetano is not only a winemaker and veterinarian, but also a novice photographer. Each time I took out my camera, Gaetano eagerly offered to take our picture ensuring that both horizontal and vertical shots were captured. As we waited for another couple to arrive (whom you might be interested to know ended up being from Chicago, too), Gaetano poured us each a glass of chilled rosé and then joined Eva in the rustically-adorned tasting room kitchen. They exhanged sweet words as they chopped basil and tomatoes, appearing to truly appreciate each moment together.
Once the other Chicago couple arrived, Gaetano took us on a tour of the vineyard. We encountered grape varietals only found in the Tramonti region and vines that are over 500 years old. As Gaetano so eloquently put it, "These grape vines have been producing wine since before Columbus discovered America." Eat your heart out, Napa Valley.
After the tour came the tasting, and we all gathered around a table adorned with a blue and white checked table cloth to indulge in vino, bruschetta, and parmigiano. As Gaetano poured each of us wine, he shared stories about the vineyard's history and his passion for winemaking. The title of this post was a statement he casually and genuinely made, arms gently extended into the air, while explaining his work. For a man whose native language is not English, those 7 words were strung together in a beautiful way, and from the way he softly sighed at the end of his statement, it was evident that he truly meant what he said.
From the homemade olive oil to the wine he named after his wife (Per Eva) to the hunk of parmigiano he kindly tossed to the vineyard cat; this is a man who has found contentment in the work he does. And let me tell you, he does his work well. Each of the wines we tasted was perfect in its own right and Gaetano had a story for each. One wine named for his wife, Eva, one for the four partners of the vineyard, and one still unnamed but likely to be named in honor of his daughter's graduation from vet school. While it's easy to find a vineyard to taste wine at, it's impossible to manufacture the passion, inspiration, and love that Tenuta San Francesco exudes. Far beyond a wine tasting, this was a reminder that when you love what you do, your happiness is palpable enough to inspire those that surround you. Salute.