A springtime visit to the Friuli, Italy wine region and Villa Angoris

I am attending VinItaly, the major Italian wine conference which is held in Verona, Italy March 22-25th in Verona for the very first time.  As a result, I decided to take a pre-visit to the  Italian wine region of Friuli, located in the Northeastern part of the country, near the Slovenian border and have a first-hand opportunity to experience Villa Angoris, an Italian winemaker whose wines are now being imported by Kindred Vines Import Co and distributed by Woodberry Wine.


Villa Angoris was founded in 1648, when Locatello Locatelli received a gift from Austrian Emperor Ferdinand III for his achievements during the Thirty-Year War.  Today, the 620 hectare estate (1530 acres) is run by Marta Locatelli and it is the only winery in Friuli to own land in all three DOC’s: Isonzo, Collio, and Colli Orientali del Friuli.  Their wines are all estate grown, and sold under two labels: Villa Locatelli, which all come from the Isonzo DOC, and Angoris, which come from Collio and Colli Orientali del Friuli.


Since I was attending VinItaly, I flew into Milan and landed at 7:40am, collected my luggage and rental car.  What I didn’t quite appreciate however, was that I now had to drive over 750 km to get to Friuli!  When I planned my trip, I had imagined a drive through the Italian countryside, but what I got was a race on the A-4, Italy’s version of the Autobahn with an extremely narrow three lane highway, a crummy map, and Italian drivers that thought they were in the Grand Prix.  It was a drive that required complete focus, not easy when you are operating on 3 hours of sleep from an overnight flight!  Next time, I will fly into Venice!


After a lot of anxiety and a couple of rest stops, I made it to the beautiful Villa Angoris, near the town of Cormons, where I was met by Alan Gaddis, Export Manager for this historic estate.  The winery grows both popular varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, but also unique, indigenous varietals like Friulano, Schiapettino, and Pignolo.  After a winery tour, I experienced an incredible tasting of all of their estate wines with Alan, Marta, and winemaker Allesandro Dal Zovo.  Each wine is crafted with incredible care to bring out the best expression of the varietal as well as the unique flavors that exist within the land of Friuli itself.


After our tasting, we left the winery for a dinner in Carbone, a beautiful, historic city just minutes away from Angoris.  There, we had dinner at Al Giardinetto which has been operated by the Zoppolatti family for over 100 years.  It was a true event!  Allesandro asked the chef to cook what he liked that evening, and it was a real treat – the Branzino, paired with Angoris sparkling Rose’, was perfectly prepared.


In the morning I was up for a run, and back at the winery by 9am where Alan and Allesandro led me on a tour of the vineyards, where the Angoris team was already working in the fields “bending” over the primary grape vine and attaching it to the line.  They do this before bud break, and just before the first vines begin to take on moisture through their root system.  When the water first begins to draw through the root system in the spring, the vineyards begin to “cry” where happy tears form and drip on the ends of the newly pruned vines.  Whole teams of people work vineyard by vineyard to complete this process each spring.  The vineyards are truly beautiful, and extremely well maintained.  In the highest elevation vineyards, where they grow Pignolo and Schiapettino, there are beautiful vistas of the eastern Alps and Slovenia.  Stunning.


Allesandro is working to keep his newest vineyard’s root stock short,  noting that the wines become more intense and receive the benefit of more direct mineral content from the soil when the vines remain as close to the earth as possible.


All told, Angoris has the potential to produce 1 million bottles of wine annually, and hopefully for the benefit of everyone, they will!  We look forward to working with the Angoris team for many years to come.


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