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Venica&Venica: four generations of love for Collio


MEETING WITH SERENA VENICA.

‘We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children’.

An image, a shot that seems to eternalise these beautiful words of Navajo: the hands of a mother entrusting a bunch of grapes to those of her daughter. A precious gift, because in that bunch, in its small and compact grains, is enshrined a nectar that smells of passion and family dedication, of tradition in the care of the vines, of wine, but also of a profound form of love for one’s own territory that translates into attention to the preservation and protection of the environment. Life giving life.

That cluster is an inflorescence of Pinot Bianco ripened in berries that have now become the symbol and voice of a great and noble mission: to preserve and tell the story of Collio. Because here we are again, in this small and characteristic slice of Friuli where the Pinot Bianco Network in Collio, seven historic families from the world of wine, is walking hand in hand to narrate the precious uniqueness of its homeland. And those are the hands of Ornella and Serena Venica.

Photo credits: Tuorlo Magazine

It is with this image, stolen during a sunny day of the 2021 grape harvest, that I like to begin the second of seven journeys into the hearts and stories of the families of the Network, to discover Venica&Venica.

On the road to the vines: doing good to do good.

It was 2019 when the first Venica&Venica Sustainability Report from Dolegna del Collio took flight on the wings of ‘doing good to do good’. Good practices implemented over the years, but above all love for their territory since 1930, when the progenitor Daniele began to walk, and to mark the future path of the Venica family, on the path of the vineyards.

The age-old respect for the cycles of nature and the preference, in the vineyard as in the cellar, for natural products, has made Venica a family so strongly linked to Collio, generation after generation, that it has become a guardian of the environment, people and community.

That of Venica&Venica is the story of a journey in time, from grandfather Daniele to the fourth generation that is now receiving the baton, and in space, that of a territory with the shape of a crescent that joins Friuli Venezia Giulia to Slovenia.

Daniele’s door – ph. Francesca Orlando

Already enraptured by the magical aroma of the past, the second door, Adelchi’s, is revealed. A special door that opens the gaze to an old storeroom. No, not a storeroom, but what was once the home’s wartime treasure chest. Food as salvation, for sustenance but, above all, for not having to leave one’s home, and one’s territory. A door whose invisible plaque tells of all the love possible: once again that for the family and for Collio.

Adelchi’s door – ph. Francesca Orlando

Adelchi’s door remains behind, and the path in the cellar leads little by little to today, and it almost seems as if the light is gradually becoming brighter and clearer. Like a tree that sinks its roots into the darkness of the earth, indispensable nourishment, and then rises towards the sky, where the green spring leaves are smiling. And while Daniele and Adelchi continue to provide sustenance, a reminder of where the Venica family’s roots are, here we come to a door whose design by Viennese artist Klemens Torggler plays with its interlocking patterns.

It is the door of Gianni and Giorgio, the two brothers who today continue to nurture their unceasing passion and deep love for their work, for vineyards and wine. A door that speaks of two men bound by the same passion, with different and distinct knowledge and roles, but also of how here, in Collio, the culture of the land is intertwined with that of Central Europe. Legàmi.

The gateway to the future – ph. Francesca Orlando
The Wine Resort.

Those who deeply love their territory have a desire: to give others its beauty, to make it come alive. The Venica family’s dream has always been to welcome those who want to discover Collio, and the winery has never been just a place of production, but also a space dedicated to hospitality.

Thus the old farmhouse has been transformed over the years, giving life to a Wine Resort surrounded by the hectares of vines owned by the family and overlooking a natural forest.

Rooms have been created in a country house dating back to the end of the 19th century, where the atmosphere smells of the old inns but comfort and technology make the rooms modern. And then, above all, the view of a landscape that seems to come straight out of a book from the past that has remained unspoilt over the years. The greenery, the suggestions of the wind caressing the delicate lines of the hills.

‘The most beautiful and true thing we can give here,’ smiles Ornella Venica, Gianni’s wife, ‘is the land, this unique landscape.

It is she, Ornella, who is the true and most enthusiastic storyteller in the family.

Ornella Venica – ph. Stefano Collausig

Mentre Giorgio accudisce la cantina, donando alle uve i giusti ingredienti per trasformarle in vini pregiati, e mentre Gianni (direttore d’orchestra a coordinare i ruoli di tutti i componenti della famiglia per una perfetta sinfonia d’intenti e risultati) accarezza col sorriso le viti, per far crescere meglio i suoi grappoli, Ornella è l’anima dell’accoglienza e della comunicazione. Una vera musa del racconto, con la voglia e l’impegno di portare al mondo l’emozione di generazioni di vite trascorse tra le viti, di donare agli altri la bellezza di cui il Collio sa riempire i cuori.

 

Venica and the Pinot Bianco Network in Collio.

A mission and vocation, that of introducing the world to a peculiar territory such as Collio, which could not fail to merge and combine with the project of that network desired by Marco Felluga: the Rete del Pinot Bianco nel Collio.

And it is precisely to one of the network’s stories that this journey of discovery of the Venica family is intertwined. For while the Pinot Bianco harvest was transformed into a messenger film of the values and mission of the seven families, Ornella gave Serena a bunch of grapes.

A bunch of Pinot Bianco that opens that door to the future in the winery and makes Serena look out to welcome us, guardian of the family history, leading us by the hand towards a generational transition that walks, once again, on the path of vines and identity.

The fourth generation as told by Serena Venica.

If Venica&Venica are the two brothers Gianni and Giorgio, the fourth generation sees and will see their five children as protagonists. Marta is already following in the footsteps of cellar master and agronomist Giorgio; Giampaolo, Gianni’s son, has been in charge of communication and development in the USA and the rest of the world for years; and then there is Serena, at management control and events support Italy and Switzerland.

Ph. Francesca Orlando

Serena did not manage to throw that bunch of Pinot Blanc into a harvest basket, as everyone told her to do. She gently placed it, under the proud gaze of her father and mother, in a red bucket next to other bunches of grapes.

‘Throwing the grapes away seemed to me like throwing something away,’ she recounts, ‘I wanted to lay the bunch down, to give it the proper attention, to give that grape the love it deserves. Pinot Bianco is a grape variety that my mother always told me about with such passion and it has entered me. But in truth it is the same for all grape varieties and for everything that is part of being a winegrower. I am the fourth generation and I feel responsible: the grape, being a winegrower, is not a game, it is our family, it is our history’.

Strong values those that this delicately posed bunch expresses, while in a heartfelt and deep smile Serena dissolves words of loving pride: ‘Alongside the sense of responsibility there is also a strong pride. Every day I feel that I am in the right place, doing what I love to do. I think I am very lucky and I love this land!’.

A Collio that Serena describes as unexpected (‘whoever comes here for the first time is astounded!’), multifaceted (‘everyone here finds their own identity linked to the corner of Collio where they live and so no producer is the same as another, because Collio has many souls, every corner has unique and peculiar characteristics’) and uncontaminated (‘it is an almost virgin territory, here tourism is very delicate and respectful and what people take away is the sense of identity of those who have always lived here’).

And it is storytelling that returns as the protagonist, because

“Mum tells many stories and she taught me that in our work it is fundamental. They are the stories of ours and of the other families who have lived here for generations. They are the stories that allow people to get to know and appreciate our territory, because the winemaking families hand down the stories through their wines… I have always heard the story of our family and today it is natural for me to do so in my turn, also and above all when I have one of our wines tasted’.

But here comes out, alongside the narrative soul of his mother, also the creative soul of dad Gianni.

After all, sometimes children are a perfect blend of their parents’ characters and know how to embrace the best. So, when we ask Serena to accompany us to sip a glass of Pinot Bianco, she describes it as a woman with very long legs, shapely but refined, delicate; a wine with a feminine expression that would have as a worthy and perfect spouse a thin glass with an elongated stem… And to envelop wine and glass infinite perfumed shades of green, the many tones of the territory in which Pinot Bianco matures, grows and is transformed.

In short, elegance and personality in a wine that gives Serena the opportunity to give voice, again and again, to the hard core of the Venica family history: love for Collio. A love that has become a philosophy of life and is allowing, once again, a harmonious generational transition.

 


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