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01 Jun 2009
Our Sunday at Terre del Principe

Sunday morning, May 31st, Cynthia, Brenda, Duke and I headed off on an adventure. We were off to visit the winery Terre del Principe located in the Caserta province. Cynthia and I have had their wines before at a wine tatsing held at Ciao Vino last year. We had never seen the winery, though. As mentioned in earlier emails, several wineries were having open houses on Sunday. I chose this one after reading their web site. They decided to have an ‘open house’ by reservation only. In other words, they wanted to spend their Sunday with a small group of about 40 visitors instead of having an ambush of hundreds that could appear at their doorstep. I think they made the right decision. We were treated to an entire day relaxing with good food, good wine, and good company. Here is how our day went:

As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by Manuela Piancastelli and Peppe Mancini, the two owners. I have been to many wineries but I must say that it is rare to see a couple that has a passion for life like they do. This passion is seen in their vineyards, their cantina, their wine, and their hospitality. We instantly felt at home. Once all the guests arrived, we were treated to an appertivo as we listened to a concert performed by Maetsro Francesco Cera on the harpsichord. It was a new experience for me but I think the 16th century music fit in well with the scenery as well as a good way to start off our day. Next we walked through the vineyards with Manuela and Peppe. Here, once again, they shared their love for life with us as they discussed the history of their wines and winery as well as their philosophy on winemaking. Next stop, the cantina. The cantina was small, but once again you could see the care that the couple places on every detail. (We also learned that they were married in the wine cellar!) Lunch was the next item on the itinerary. Here we all sat together at a very loooong table. This was a great experience because we were all able to laugh and discuss the day with people from many different backgrounds; from a retired American Professor who now lives in Rome, to a popular Italian Sommelier from Caserta, and a young couple from Pozzuoli to name a few. The chef was Manuela’s brother who treated us to a wide range of specialties to include bruschetta with olive oil and chamomile, ricotta with jam, a baked cheese and mint torte. Various cheeses and salamis…and that was just the appetizer! I believe we were at the table for 2 ½ hours. We were served three of their wines that must be mentioned here. Le Sérole ( a white made with 100% Pallagrello bianco grapes), Castello delle Femmine, ( a 50/50 combination of Pallagrello nero and Casavecchia) and their prized Vignapiancastelli, ( 70% Pallagrello nero, 30% Casavecchia, aged three years).

It was a day to remember. The rain arrived telling us that it was probably best to go home. I am sure that we will return soon!!

On our visit to the vineyards, our hosts shared with us their love for the land, its history and their passion for winemaking.

04 Jun 2009
It is never too late to sign up!

I first met Antonio Caggiano when a group of us went to Taurasi two years ago on a Saturday afternoon. The winery’s name had been given to me by a friend of a friend of a friend, etc. I looked at the web site and said, “Why not?”

When we arrived in the cantina, we were welcomed by a gentleman who loves life. Antonio Caggiano is a photographer, architect, and wine lover. He put these passions together and has constructed the showcase cantina in the Taurasi region. He travels the world promoting his wines and the spirit of Avellino. He is known as Mr. Taurasi. I will never forget my first visit to his winery. It is practically museum filled with surprises at every turn. Those who have been there know what I mean. Afterwards at lunch in a local agriturismo, he even showed up with a bottle of grappa and desert wine! I am looking forward to our visit on the 6th. We have decided to carpool and will leave Saturday morning. The cost is now 40 Euro and it includes our 'breakfast stop', wine tour and tasting of his wines, and lunch. Let me know if you are interested in coming along by giving me a call.