15 July 2019 Making wine has never been an easy undertaking. But when your land teeters on a cliff’s edge, the challenge is not just hard, it is extreme. The Amalfi Coast is home to one of the most stunning landscapes in the world. A marvel of human’s drive to inhabit even the most difficult geography, for the coast, is a craggy peninsula that juts out into the Mediterranean. Each little crevice in the cliff’s face reveals tiny beaches with precarious stone staircases that ascend to villages built directly into the rock. Their perch seemingly precarious, but their age reminds that people have been living and working here for at least a thousand years. I repeat, a marvel of human ingenuity to create a safe refuge in even the most extreme areas. Terraced vineyards, Marisa Cuomo, Campania. But what of farming and other agricultural pursuits? How, in such an unforgiving landscape, can you carve out enough space to produce? Let us return to that marvel that is the human mind; for at least the last millennia, people have been growing the food they eat, and the wine they drink on narrow plots of terraced land dug directly out of the cliff-face on the Amalfi Coast. An extremely precious wine heritage that many have abandoned over time. Pergola vineyards, Marisa Cuomo, Campania. Marisa Cuomo is one winery that has taken the opposite approach. They looked at their extreme land and decided to make extreme wine to preserve the rich biodiversity of vine varieties and the inimitable knowledge and culture of the peasant winemakers. Furore Bianco Fiorduva, Marisa Cuomo, Campania. Marisa Cuomo has a relatively small production of around 50,000 bottles per year, but an outmatched reputation as one of Southern Italy’s premier wineries and champion of native grapes. Their range of wines includes four whites, four reds, and one rosé, all of which are produced from hyper-local grape varieties such as Piedirosso, Pepella, and Ginestra. However, of this lineup, one label truly stands out as an extreme wine: Furore Bianco Fiorduva. This multi-award-winning label is a blend of 30% Fenile, 30% Ginestra, and 40% Ripoli that are grown on terraced pergolas up the steep cliff-side of Furore. The grapes are left to overripen on the vine and are picked by hand – because there is no other way – in late October. One picked, the grapes are carried off the terraces by mules, who are agile enough to navigate the hills in a way four wheels never could be. Once the grapes make it back to the cellar in the afternoon, the transformation to wine begins. What results in four months is densely layered, golden-yellow wine that tastes of the Mediterranean. A mule aiding harvest, Marisa Cuomo, Campania. While all of Marisa Cuomo’s wines could be considered extreme, Fiorduva is part of Proposta Vini’s “Vini Estremi” collection. Proposta Vini, an association that works to promote and preserve the extraordinary richness of Italy’s biodiversity, creates a catalogue of producers and labels across the world to wine, beer and spirits that are upholding heritage practices. Gianpaolo Girardi, Proposta Vini’s founder, poetically describes extreme wines as: “heroic wines, children of the hard work, sweat and industriousness of man; they are often produced in unknown, geographically unbroken, at times impossible areas, and cultivated in tiny plots of land snatched away from the mountainside, the rocks and the sea. From Trentino-Alto Adige to Sardinia, from Valle d'Aosta to the island of Pantelleria, from Valtellina to the Amalfi Coast, from the Cinque Terre to the slopes of Etna, the ancient Enotria boasts a myriad wines that have survived wars, plagues and the scourge of phylloxera. Grape varieties which, thanks to the tenacity and passion of certain small-scale but great winegrowers, have been plucked out of oblivion and are still able to offer the followers of Bacchus the most extraordinary wines.” A pergola vineyard, Marisa Cuomo, Campania. So, let’s all raise a glass to Marisa Cuomo for their continued dedication to the wines of the Amalfi Coast because we all needed even more reasons to visit! Discover the beauty of Marisa Cuomo’s terraced vineyards and taste their award-winning wines with The Grand Wine Tour.