The second wave and the youth revolution

Between the end of the 1970’s and the first years of the 1980’s, a group of young winemakers  appeared on the scene; their guiding light was Mario Schiopetto. The world was getting bigger and new restaurant trends and fresh culinary tendencies were establishing themselves in Italy. In the wake of this arrived the great French white wines. These young growers understood that the frontiers of quality could be pushed back further, and maybe due to that innate spirit of contradiction that exists between fathers and sons, for the first time it was they who began to look towards France.

They began to question two of the founding pillars of the renaissance of Friuli white wines. On travelling to France, they discovered low-tech production facilities and excellent wines. They began to conceive a revolt against the medicalized, Germanic-derived approach, asking themselves if it was right to treat wine as a chronically sick patient. The second idea, which was totally new, was that it was possible to modify the way that vines were grown. The first revolution basically took place in the cellars. Initially, it was thought that viticulture, being so wrapped in tradition, was impossible to change, that it was an immutable entity at the mercy of land and weather, while nobody realized how in the meantime that tradition was being eroded by the effects of a modernity devoid of knowledge and therefore out of control and futureless, the modernity represented by the Fiat 312 and the Professors.

In reality, that tradition which had been drained of all meaning through its loss of dignity and the conscious actions of its protagonists turned out to be a betrayal. The young pioneers discovered other vineyards, other ways to train the vines and they asked themselves whether the existing methods could be overtaken. The vineyards became open-air laboratories. The Grand Old Man of the Collio, the Count of Attems, once more sensed the winds of progress and complied with the demands of the new generation and understood that a wine’s unique character has its origin in the fields; he made the right choice. He channeled the limited resources of the Consortium and founded the Collio Winemaking Technical Service.

Tired of taking lessons from inexpert people, a new method was introduced in the Consortium. They studied those local production models which were successful, and worked on their internal logic. They compared themselves with other producers, attempting to make the most out of the knowledge they supplied, and starting out from their needs, new consistent models were worked on, including travelling abroad to find the more highly evolved versions of our old viticulture methods, those which were used before the arrival of the “Professors”; this was a new approach to learning. After a series of successive attempts, a new way of cultivating grape vines came into existence which spread first throughout the Collio and later much farther beyond the confines of the area. All of this went towards stopping the ongoing destruction; the very French concept that the best wine comes from the oldest vines became widely established. Furthermore it began to lend a new shape to the Collio landscape; closely spaced rows, narrow terraces, slopes which again follow the natural flow of the land, lightweight wooden support poles and an abundant growth of grass beneath the vines. 

The growers, now with a newly-acquired dignity thanks to the first successful wine production, regained control of their own vineyards and the hillsides regained their beauty. In this way, they also unwittingly revived a connection to the past.