Inama, in the heart of Soave Classico, is a family-owned and operated winery. They have been making wine for over half a century on Mount Foscarino and in the Colli Berici, focusing on producing territory-driven styles of wine to showcase the unique volcanic soils of their vineyards. As one of The Grand Wine Tour’s newest wineries, we spoke with Stefano Inama about his winery and what makes it so special.
Let’s begin with a question not about wine, but rather about family. A lot of people, especially people visiting abroad, think of most Italian wineries as being family-owned and operated, but that isn’t really the case. Why is it important for you that Inama continues to be run by you and now your sons?
Our Family is the soul of the project. Every day we relentlessly pursue our dream to make the best wines possible. Our customers can feel this in the glass when they enjoy our wines but they experience it first hand when they come to visit us in the winery.
Territory Driven Wine
One of your biggest goals is to make territory-driven wines that showcase the terroir instead of what the grape is ‘supposed’ to taste like. Turning to the area Inama is in – Soave and Colli Berici – how does this reflect in the wines you make?
Our aim is to escape from the constraints of showcasing just the varietal notes of each type of grape. We have a sense of place in the wines we make. A fantastic example of this are our Soave Classico or Sauvignon Vulcaia Fumè that really showcase the volcanic soils the grapes grew in. It is like you can taste the volcano in the glass.
Mission Driven Winery
Another very big aspect of your winery, to me, seems to be that it is mission-driven. You have three broad missions that guide the entire production, from vineyard management to winemaking. Tell us a bit about these missions and why they are critical to Inama’s philosophy of wine.
I believe that working as one big family is key to our success. All of our employee’s make up a part of our family in a way. They fully understand and support the family’s philosophy of winemaking and because team building is consistently a priority for us, we are all able to communicate and work harmoniously with the same aim and intense passion. In this way it is like the Estate shines its own light, no one person is brighter than the other. The Inama family oversees all the strategic decision making and steering the winery into the future, but each of our team members are integral to the success of our daily operations.
As for our philosophy, it is simple: making wine is a relationship with the land that needs to be respected. We break our activities into two categories – Viticulture and Winemaking. In Viticulture, nature is Queen. We strive to grow the most wild grapes possible, with careful eyes on vineyard management to ensure the best grapes. In Winemaking we work as simply as possible to showcase the purity of the ripe grapes, their deep aromas and a flawless expression of the soils.
Let us now speak about native vine varieties and international varieties. In Soave you grow predominantly Garganega, an ancient local variety that makes up the majority of Soave Classico and you also grow Carmenere in the Colli Berici, another local variety that is widely misunderstood. But you equally give space and precedence to international varieties, one of your most wines, Vulcaia Fumé, for example, is a Sauvignon. Can you explain a little bit why you don’t solely focus on native or international varieties, as many others do?
This, I think, goes back to our roots. Historically, we are white wine producers. My father, and founder of the winery, Giuseppe Inama started as a master cellar in 1948 and bought the first vineyards in Soave in 1965. In the ‘80s he took the leap to plant Sauvignon on the Foscarino hill, the heart of Soave Classico. He was a visionary, who understood the power of soils rather than the prestige of a variety.
In fact, Inama’s first labels, that I produced, were our flagship Vulcaia Sauvignon and Vulcaia Fumè Sauvignon. By valuing the soil over the variety, these two labels were catalysts for change in our area. The lands and the wines were so depleted of value and taste due to cooperatives, mass production and little regard. But with a little vision, these two wines were making the fine wine lists in Italy and then abroad.
When we turned our eyes onto red wines, we continued to value soil over variety. The Colli Berici have rich red clay soils on pure marine limestone and chalk which is what led to planting Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmanere, an ancient variety that has been growing here for at least 200 years. Eventually we developed the Colli Berici Carmenere DOC appellation which includes three Clones of Carmanere that are now recognized as native to Veneto and Friuli. We also rely on a beautiful partnership with Stephane Derenoncourt who is truly an expert and consults on our red wine production.
Wine Tasting with Soul
Lastly, The Grand Wine Tour is about experiencing Italian culture through the lens of wine and viticulture. What are the unique aspects of Inama that guests can expect to experience when visiting?
We produce the wine we love. We don’t follow trends. Freedom is what we value most. These three aspects are unique in the wine industry so when you visit Inama you discover novelty and passion. You can taste the first Carmanere DOC label on the market, the only Sauvignon that comes from Monte Foscarino and Soave Classico with no compromise. Ultimately you will experience authenticity, the soul of wine. Somebody not too long ago told us that we are the “Last of the Mohicans”… this made us laugh. Maybe we are.