Corking Chianti in the city


DALTON - On Tuesday, Davide Manzo's barn at his Dalton home felt less like the Berkshires and more like a slice of Italy.

It was the first step in Manzo's wine-making process. A Pompeii, Italy native and the owner of Trattoria Rustica in Pittsfield, he has perfected skills handed down by his parents to make a tantalizing wine for his friends and family.

"Anybody can make grapes, but making wine is special," Manzo said.

After washing out the wine residue of past years with a hose - producing an alcoholic odor - Manzo tossed and rolled large barrels to about five helpers. The spry men hoisted them onto a shelf inside the small barn, which seemed to be used for winemaking more than anything else.

"It's going to be a mess now," he warned nearby filmmakers, photographers and reporters. They inched backward.

The crew took turns pouring the crates of grapes into an implement called a torchio, which grinds them up and strips them from the vine to be stored in the barrels.

Other crew members took turns feeding the grapes down the torchio using a wooden stick. Manzo warned his help several times to "not stick your hands in there."

Leaving the grape vines in with the grapes makes for a drier wine. The grapes will spend the next week fermenting before they are juiced into a Chianti. The type of wine depends on the kind of grapes used.

Alcohol is produced when yeast eats up the sugar during fermentation.

" Think about when you're going to drink this," Manzo said. "That's the best part."

Pietro Luciano, originally from Calabria, Italy, has made wine for about six years, but this was his first year working with Manzo.

"It's not that it's fun - it's that it's passion," Luciano said. "You know how to make it, where it comes from and what the process is."

Rino Coppola, Manzo's nephew by marriage, came to watch the process. He celebrated with everyone after the process was complete by dipping into a port wine aged for 13 years.

"Every year, (Manzo's) wine has gotten better," Coppola said. "But that also depends on the year, the weather and the mix used."

To reach Adam Poulisse:, or (413) 496-6214.

On Twitter:@BE_Poulisse.


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