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Italian Producer Opens New Cultural Center for Visitors

Feudi di San Gregorio's winery complex features exhibition space, two restaurants and gardens, along with tours and tasting courses.

Jo Cooke
Posted: June 29, 2004

One of Southern Italy's most dynamic estates, Feudi di San Gregorio, has opened to the public its new $20-million winery and cultural center, a monumental structure set in the hills of Campania.

The multistory complex, near the town of Sorbo Serpico, in the province of Avellino, was designed by Milan-based Japanese architect Hikaru Mori, while the interior design is the work of internationally recognized designers Massimo and Lella Vignelli. The building encompasses a state-of-the-art winery facility, offices and exhibition space for artistic and cultural events. Surrounding the winery are Asian-style garden terraces and waterways, herb gardens and a rose garden containing every single local rose variety.

"There's nothing like it in Italy," said Enzo Ercolino, 48, who founded Feudi di San Gregorio in the 1980s. "You would have to travel to Napa Valley, or maybe Champagne, to find something similar."

The idea behind the project was to provide a cultural meeting place, where all the senses could be gratified, Ercolino said. "People can come here at the weekend to taste good wine, eat good food, wander around the gardens and look at an exhibition -- all in a tranquil environment."

In addition to tastings, visitors can choose from a number of paid guided tours of the estate and its vineyards. The winery will also operate as an external seat of the newly founded University of Gastronomic Sciences, based in Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna, and will stage wine-tasting courses and seminars on local products, open to students and the general public. The finishing touches are being made to a 300-seat auditorium, for which two walls, the floor and the ceiling have been constructed using wine barrels, to enhance the acoustics.

Visitors can lunch at two restaurants, located on the top floor of the winery. One is a casual, café-style environment serving pizza and snacks; the other, a 60-seat restaurant called Marennà, was created in collaboration with chef Heinz Beck, of the Michelin two-star La Pergola restaurant at the Cavalieri Hilton in Rome. The menu focuses on typical regional dishes, using estate-grown ingredients, while the wine list includes the entire range of Feudi di San Gregorio wines, priced at $6 more than the ex-cellar price. Other wines from Italy and the rest of the world are also featured. In the heart of the barrel cellar, a small dining area can seat up to 20 guests for special functions.

The opening of the winery complex marks the completion of a five-year, $30 million-plus investment that has included the extension of the Ercolino family's vineyard holdings to about 740 acres, with another 123 acres under lease.

Feudi di San Gregorio now produces around 260,000 cases of wine each year, including some of the region's benchmark whites, made from local varieties such as Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo and Falanghina, as well as reds based on Aglianico and international varieties. The winery exports around 36,000 cases to the United States annually.

"Everyone says that 'wine is culture,' but we are trying to back up our words with action," Ercolino said. "We want our winery to come alive."

Feudi di San Gregorio Aziende Agricole
Località Cerza Grossa
Sorbo Serpico (AV)
Telephone: (011) 3- 0825-986611
E-mail for appointments: prenota@feudi.it
Web site: www.feudi.it (Italian only)

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