Vigna Petrussa – Three generations of women in this family vineyard on Italy’s Slovenia Border
Francesca Mecchia works with her mother Hilde Petrussa, on their family-owned vineyard in Friuli Venezia Giulia. Located on the Slovenian border in Friuli Colli Orientali, this vineyard was helmed by Hilde’s mother before her and now includes her daughter Francesca. Three generations of women in wine.
History of Vigna Petrussa
The property near the village of Albana was handed down from Francesca’s great-grandfather Giuseppe to her grandfather Celestino. When Celestino passed away, his wife, Francesca’s Grandmother, Giustina, took on the property of about 7 hectares. Giustina had two daughters, one of whom was not interested in the business and moved to Rome. The other was Francesca’s mother, Hilde, who was 16 or so when her father died and moved to Veneto.
Francesca remembers her grandmother as “very tough, not very friendly.” She was a widow by herself, managing a property that people thought should be in male hands. No one wanted to work for a woman.
Luckily, the vineyards sat just 500 meters from the Slovenian border. Francesca’s grandmother found a man to help work in the vineyard, who had friends in Slovenia. The economy in Slovenia was not good, and they were happy to come and help in the vineyard.
Hilde, Francesca’s mother, was busy in Veneto, teaching elementary school and raising Francesca with her husband. On the weekends, they would go up to help Giustina with the vineyard and property.
Eventually, Francesca’s parents invested, buying her aunt’s portion of the property, and began fixing up the house as a hobby.
When they moved to the property, her mother, Hilde, who had always been the quiet mother raising a child without big dreams, became another person. Francesca says she must have been bored in those early quiet days. Now she became ambitious. She learned new techniques to experiment and get the best from her grapes. They went from selling wine to local people to bottling and selling all over Italy.
Francesca went on to train as an architect, studying in Florence, spending a bit of time in Spain working, and then living in London for 12 years. In the end, she returned to help her mother, the 3rd generation of women in this family business. Now they work to expand beyond Italy, selling their wines abroad and looking at the changing markets, cultures, and clients while keeping their feet in the soil and being true to the ground from which the grapes grow.
More to come on Vigna Petrussa!
Watch for more on our series on Vigna Petrussa, as we discuss their sustainability efforts, their Schioppettino di Prepotto and the other varieties of wine that they create. Posting each Thursday!
Read our overview on the Friuli Colli Orientali region and get a recipe for a pairing with their Schioppettino di Prepotto, here.
For more information on Vigna Petrussa you can visit their website.
If you are looking to find their wines in the US, they are available at VeroVino Craft Wines.
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine and WSET 3 Certified. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.
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What a fascinating (and inspiring story)! It seems the future (and past) is female!
They are inspiring! We had such a wonderful time learning their story from Francesca.