Alberata is a grapevine cultivation system that has been typical of the Agro Aversano landscape, around the town of Aversa between Naples and Caserta, for millennia.
Also known locally as vite maritata, these “married vines” are hard to imagine until you have seen them for yourself: Huge, ancient plants stretch from one poplar tree to another, reaching up to 10 meters tall and filling the space between the trees with a wall of branches, leaves and fruit. The vines are “married” to the poplar trees with taut lines of galvanized iron wire.
The arrangement of the alberata vines often follows Roman centuriation, the system used to organize agricultural land in antiquity. But the tradition of growing grapevines supported by poplars dates back even further, to the Etruscans. This solution was an effective use of the land, sending the vines upwards into the sky and leaving the ground free for other crops.
These impressive green walls are the basis for a unique winegrowing culture: the vines are pruned following specific alberata rules, which maintains the architecture of the plants, and the grapes are harvested using a scalillo, a long, narrow and lightweight ladder which can be transported by a single man. The picker moves along the vine wall, placing bunches of grapes into a fescina, a conical wicker basket. When dropped rapidly the pointed base wedges into the ground and stops the basket from tipping over.
Only one variety is grown using the alberata system, Asprinio, a white grape with elongated, tapering bunches and a slightly tart flavor. As well as the cultivation technique, it also gets its character from the mineral-rich soil here, just north of the Campi Flegrei volcanic area, and the tufaceous rock (Campanian ignimbrite). Over the centuries, many caves have been carved out of this rock and used to store foods and wine. Still today, the caves, together with the alberata vines, represent an incredible historical heritage for the entire Aversano area.
The grapes are harvested from the alberata vines in September
Population growth and widespread urbanization have led to the abandonment of this technique, and now even the remaining alberata vines are under threat.
The few surviving producers, with their small plots spread out over a large area, make wine for their own consumption or increasingly sell the grapes, meaning the extraordinary value of this cultivation system is lost in the production chain.
The Presidium was started to try to prevent the extinction of this system, preserving the vineyards and their traditions, salvaging abandoned alberata vines and saving those at risk of being dug up due to a lack of restrictions or any specific legislation from local authorities. Its other objective is to develop and promote the production of wine made only from alberata-grown grapes in order to give value to the entire system. These grapes produce a fresh white wine with a low alcohol level and high acidity, and are also ideal for making sparkling wine.
Aversa, Carinaro, Casal di Principe, Casaluce, Casapesenna, Cesa, Frignano, Gricignano di Aversa, Lusciano, Orta di Atella, Parete, San Cipriano di Aversa, San Marcellino, Sant' Arpino, Succivo, Teverola, Trentola-Ducenta, Villa di Briano and Villa Literno municipalities in Caserta province and Giugliano, Qualiano and Sant' Antimo in Naples province, Campania region
“La mia Terra Vale” (“My land has value”) project in response to the “Giovani per i Beni Pubblici” (“Youth for Public Goods”) public announcement funded by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers – Department of Youth and National Civil Service
Nicola Giovanni Migliaccio
Tel. 320 8863072