Jay Whiteley finds a rare white wine made by prisoners on an Island in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Gorgona, is both an island off the coast of Tuscany, and the name of the wine that is made on that island. The island is home to a small prison, which houses about 50-60 inmates. The white wine is a blend of Vermentino and Ansonica (a.k.a. Insolia or Inzolia in Sicily) grape varieties.
The project is headed up by one of Italy’s oldest wine making family’s, Frescobaldi. It all started when Carlo Mazzerbo, the Gorgona penitentiary director, put out a call to find some help with the vines that they planted. The Frescobaldi family jumped on a boat and went directly to see how they could assist.
Most of the inmates have been transferred from other prisons and are at the end of their sentences. To combat recidivism and help to integrate inmates once released, the prison planted a vineyard and even pay the inmates to grow the grapes and make the wines. Since then three former inmates have found work in cellars in Italy and a fourth is soon to be hired by Frescobaldi.
The 2015 vintage of Gorgona wine, is the fourth vintage produced from the 1.8 hectare vineyard which was planted in 1999. There are roughly roughly about 2,000 bottles and 150 magnums produced this year.
The wine is represented in Canada by Galleon, a division of Philippe Dandurand Wines in Ontario, come in six packs (at about $100 a bottle) and are not only great wines, but they are helping potentially marginalized people integrate back into society.
Follow Jay Whiteley’s adventures in wine on Twitter at @corkdork.