Azienda Agricola Inama
Producers: Stefano Inama
Located in: San Bonifacio, Italia
Supplying PCC since: 2006
Try his Vin Soave
“ The first step to making great wine is to fire your accountant. ” — Stefano Inama
Wickedly smart, with the insouciant cool of the true geek, Stefano Inama makes some of Italy’s most expressively delicious wines.
His approach is ruthlessly simple — cut the b.s., grow great grapes and do everything possible to let those brilliant flavors sing in the glass.
Inama, redefining Soave, brilliantly
What do you get when you combine the integrity, down-to-earth sensibilities, and intuition of a farmer with the intellectual curiosity of a scientist, the logical precision of a philosopher and the unbridled passion of a revolutionary? While that may sound like an implausible, even impossible set of characteristics to pack into one human, if you add a wickedly acerbic wit and the unaffected insouciance of a true geek, it renders a pretty accurate sketch of Stefano Inama.
“ What is a winemaker? There is no such thing as a winemaker. The closest one can come to making wine is the man who wisely prunes the vines. ” — Stefano Inama
When it comes to living down a misbegotten reputation, Soave is the white wine sibling to Chianti in straw-covered fiaschetti. While Chianti has made tremendous strides in resurrecting its image from that of the cheap, unremarkable companion to red-checked tablecloths and bad spaghetti, Soave’s Lazarus act is just beginning — and may have an even harder row to hoe. But thanks to the passion, hard work and uncompromising integrity of producers like Giuseppe and Stefano Inama, it is becoming rapidly evident that the region can produce some of the world’s most expressive white wines.
The story begins well over half a century ago…
In 1946, after returning to finish war-interrupted studies focusing on agriculture, Giuseppe Inama began what would prove to be a lifelong career in the wine business. Over the next 35 years, he would wear a number of hats, working first as a technician, then in management, with roles in everything from logistics to client services. In the 1950s, as Italy’s dramatic migration of families from rural to urban areas was at its peak, Giuseppe began buying parcels of land around Mount Foscarino, lured by its soil, climate and exposure. Over the next three decades, while working full time in a variety of wine-rated capacities, he grew his production of white wines, bit by bit, selling them to larger firms.
Finally, in the 1980s, convinced of the tremendous potential for singular character and quality in his vineyards, Giuseppe began to focus on attaining that vision by lowering yields, concentrating on quality in the vineyard, and replacing the French clones of sauvignon vines in his vineyards with traditional Italian varieties. Most importantly, these wines bore the Inama label.
In 1990, just returned from studies in applied biology in England, Stefano began work at the winery, and immediately begin experimenting, at first with sauvignon, in what he describes as “an enjoyable adventure” that was “almost a joke.” A joke with a serious punch line, evidently, as the wine, and its successors received tremendous critical acclaim. Enchanted and encouraged, Stefano plunged headlong into the business, becoming a major force in the growth of the winery, and eventually assuming the reins of the company. Giuseppe describes that transition with typical eloquence: “I should add that I put myself out to pasture two years ago but I’m always ready and available. I let my son get on with things. It’s his turn now to do the evaluating and take the right decisions. From Stefano I have learnt to emerge from habit, I’ve become used to listening and taking risks. On the other hand, my teachings have been well received: use passion, constancy, resources…. What counts, in the end, is obtaining the best from the vine. To make great wine, one has to work in full respect of Nature and work hard in the cellar….”
Since Stefano’s joining the team, the winery’s reputation continues to grow, as both wines and producers evolve with new energies and ideas. In addition to constantly reassessing and renewing both facilities and methods, in the late '90s father and son began looking for suitable sites to produce red wines. After extensive research, they settled on parcels in the Colli Berici, beginning with the pre-phylloxera Bordeaux varietal carmenère, then adding cabernet, merlot and the traditional Veneto varietal, Raboso Veronese — varieties that find tremendous depth of expression in the soils of the Colli Berici.
The story is, of course, far more complex and rich than this space can express, but there are several fundamental ideas that offer both a key to the wines and a window to the Inama character. "After working in the Veneto for more than half a century, we are more aware than ever that there is still much to discover," says Giuseppe. "But a few things have been clear from the beginning. In order to produce 'classic' wines, wines that faithfully reflect not only tradition but also the terroir from which they have risen, it is essential to have the following:
- A unique environment suited to grape production.
- A variety adapted to that environment.
- The patience, the passion and the ability to encourage without overwhelming.
Day after day, year after year, we try to understand and interpret these factors."
Finally, as Stefano says, underscoring his cut-the-b.s. approach to just about everything: “The first step to making great wine is to fire your accountant.”
To learn more about one of our favorite Italian producers, the Inama website offers a great, in-depth look. Of course, the best part is actually drinking the wine. Start with a bottle of Inama Vin Soave, and you’re sure to see soave in a whole new light. Enjoy!