Walk among the rows with Giovanni Messina, who on Mount Gorna, a small extinct volcano on the slopes of Etna, is making the family dream come true: the heroic viticulture project Eudes wines.
It is too early for Trecastagni, the city is still resting while the sea vapors cool the warm sides of Etna, last night the volcano sneezed dust and lapilli. Giovanni is waiting for me at the end of a bumpy road, from then on we can only proceed with his pick up. I immediately understand that his project has something heroic about it . To reach the vineyards we must proceed at walking pace on a narrow strip of rough boulders. Who makes him do it, I think, while the brambles scratch the bodywork. “When my father, in the 70s, bought this land on Monte Gorna , on the slopes of Etna, there was nothing. On this strip of mountain, which he contemplated every day from the town square, over there, dad dreamed of setting up a farm. I fell in love with his dream, I made it mine and I transformed this land into my corner of paradise - he tells me with eyes moist with emotion. I did it for my dad and my family: my wife Laura and our daughters Greta and Alice. On this mountain I want to leave my mark ”.
The forest thins out suddenly, leaving room for a natural amphitheater sculpted by terraces on which the sapling vines rest. It is a natural spectacle that takes your breath away: behind us the mountain, in front of the sea. A blue table on which the warm sun is reflected, caressing the generous vineyards of Carricante, Catarratto and Nerello Mascalese grapes all year round. They are happy vineyards and it cannot be otherwise with this very wide horizon in front of them. Calabria and Taormina on one side, Syracuse, Noto and the south of the island on the other. Eudes wines are born from these grapes full of sun and sea. Real, deep wines with a very strong mineral character given by the volcano. "I have about five hectares of vines, I would like to plant new ones until I reach the top of the mountain" - Giovanni tells me while with a wise and affectionate gesture he 'squats' the ground around a scion, the portion of the plant from which the new vineyard will be born .
“What you see is the result of years of sacrifice, we have had to overcome very difficult moments, such as the fire in 2020 . Sadly, unfortunately, like the many fires that occur here every year ”. Giovanni remembers everything about that day in detail. “At 2.30 pm Roberto Carbone, a Boniviri farmer, called me. He had seen black smoke rising from Mount Gorna. I called the forester, the fire brigade, I no longer knew who to ask for help while the fire was devouring the vineyards. Rescuers arrived late and after a while they stopped. I had to fight the fire alone , risking my life, together with some friends who rushed here as soon as they found out ”.
Meanwhile, part of the vineyard is dead and we need to start all over again, says Giovanni with his voice broken with anger, his skin hollowed out by the sun and sulfur, and the straight gaze of those who are not afraid and want to go to the end of their destiny. "'Nun sacciu chiddu che sta faciannu' , my friends tell me when they see me climbing Mount Gorna, my Mount, with the pick up". Who makes you do it, I keep thinking while he tells me about his land, beautiful and very difficult, about the customers who pay late, about the sky that for no reason spits hail on the fragile grapes and ruins a year's work.
"Cu tu fici fari" , to Giovanni, many tell him. Yesterday there was the fire, today there is the war that, even if far away, has arrived here anyway with the costs that are soaring and the raw materials that are scarce. “Caps, bottles, everything has become very expensive. The custom-made steel tub now costs three times as much. The same, the same identical. Processing has also become more expensive. For this, together with my winemaker and friend Angelo we are building our cellar. A part is ready, only the press and the refrigeration unit are missing ”.
It is Sunday and Giovanni has to return, they are waiting for him at home. “I have a wonderful family, I continue to do it especially for them. When I come home and turn the key I forget everything. I wish Alice and Greta would one day make this reality grow. Even if they are very small, I take them with me everywhere: in the vineyard, when we do the tastings, when we take the samples ". Giovanni has reproduced their fingerprints on the Eudes logo, together with those of his wife Laura.
Who makes him do it, I keep thinking, while I drink a glass of Bianco di Monte 2016, a pure carricante that is not afraid of aging, one of the wines Giovanni is most fond of. In that glass I feel the sea with all its flavor, I feel the volcano with all its minerality. And I feel the imprint of Giovanni: an unmistakable intertwining of love and madness . And of courage, that of those who want to make their dreams come true, to the end.
Come on Giovanni, keep doing it for us too.