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In the late 1960s, during one of his many trips to Puglia as a wine merchant, grandpa Laurentino De Cerchio came across a family of shepherds as he stood at the side of the road after his car broke down. The shepherds helped him get his car running again and asked him for a lift home, which was close by. They drove past some fine vineyards which he later discovered belonged to the shepherds. Arriving at the pajaru, the rural drywall construction typical of the Salento district, where local shepherds lived, they offered him a glass of wine and a piece of pecorino cheese, both of their own production, asking him what had brought him to a remote area of southern Italy at that time. Grandpa Laurentino told them he was looking for the most beautiful vineyard in Puglia, to produce a unique wine. The shepherds chattered in their local dialect, suddenly left the room and returned a few minutes later. A few words and a handshake, and the Tenuta del Pajaru was born, a homage to that family of hard workers who gave grandpa Laurentino the chance to continue cultivating his dream.
Tenuta del Pajaru is in Manduria, a few kilometres from the sea, in an area that straddles the territory known as Magna Graecia as far as the Salento Peninsula. The scenario is one of boundless expanses of ochre red earth, which conjures up a feeling of warmth at first sight, and age-old olive groves. The limestone soils contain high concentrations of iron and aluminium hydroxides, elements of quartz and clay minerals. With a mild climate and plenty of sunny days during the year, the area is nonetheless a challenge to farm because of the large amounts of compact limestone, requiring sacrifice and dedication. Only vines native to the centre-south of Puglia and the Salento Peninsula are grown here: Nero di Troia, Primitivo and Negroamaro. The wines produced are warm and caressing, the result of the backbreaking manual work that still takes place in the rows under the scorching sun as it has done for generations.
Growing environmental awareness persuaded the family to adopt organic winegrowing practices throughout its estates. Respect for natural cycles, non-invasive growing techniques and work in the rows that is attentive to showcasing the native and authenticity traits of each district have been at the forefront of the De Cerchio family philosophy over the years.
The De Cerchio family has always embraced the philosophy of spontaneous fermentation. This winemaking method is the proof that work begins among the vines, where targeted cultivation techniques go a long way to ensuring generous amounts of ambient yeasts reach the cellar, where they engage in a natural transformation process. Consequently, a natural selection of several strains endow wines with an authentic, rich aromatic legacy. The family is committed to this production approach and each bottle of its wine offers only the bounty of Mother Nature. Hence the wines are complex, the purest expression of their place of origin, able to inspire the most distinctive sensations.