The vineyards in Copertino castle

Countless Negroamaro grapevines line the terraces and bastions of the Angevin castle in Copertino. The authors of this little miracle are oenologist Pizzolante Leuzzi and the president of the local wine cooperative. Ancient documents indicate that in the past, the walls and trenches of the castle were used as roof gardens, and were the home of olive groves and vineyards.

Rita de Bernart

The vineyards in Copertino castle

History and innovation go hand in hand in the Angevin castle in Copertino, in the form of one hundred Negroamaro grapevines planted on its bastions.

The ancient terraced gardens return to life, thanks to Vigneto sul Castello (i.e. The Vineyard on the Castle), a project that saw the light last April. The authors are oenologist Giuseppe Pizzolante Leuzzi and Francesco Trono, president of Cupertinum, the local wine cooperative, who were able to implement their idea with the collaboration of the managers of the castle and the Superintendence for the Architectural, Landscape and Cultural Heritage of Lecce.

Ancient documents reveal that in the past, the upper part of the bastions, walls and trenches were used as roof gardens, with olive trees and grapevines growing there. The vine variety used is one of the most ancient and typical of this area: Negroamaro Cannellino, which has only come back into vogue in recent decades.
This project is the first of its kind both in Italy and abroad and intends to promote tourism by capitalizing on the local cultural heritage.

The castle, built in the 1530s, has a quadrangle plan and is one of the most important fortresses in Salento: indeed, it is considered a cultural point of reference for the entire region.

Cupertinum, the wine cooperative established in 1935, had always been linked to this building, and the labels of the bottles of Copertino DOC wine depict the entrance to the castle, whereas the IGT Salento wines are dedicated to the noble families who lived there.

Wandering along the terraces and bastions one finds oneself immersed in the history of Copertino and Salento, and in this unique, fascinating environment, it is easy to understand how important viticulture and wine-making were in this region.

Only in a couple of years’ time will it be possible to harvest the first grapes. For the time being the “bambini” (children), as oenologist Pizzolante Leuzzi calls them, will be well pampered, and a decision will be made on the wine production method to adopt. So we will just have to wait to savour the results of this adventurous enterprise, and maybe meanwhile, we can take the opportunity to stroll around the vineyard and visit the castle. Doubtlessly many of us are already counting the days…

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