Visit to Primitivo di Manduria Winery
If you are visiting Puglia, you will, for sure, come across Primitivo wine served in local restaurants and bars. We were staying for several days in Manduria and I was delighted to discover that the area is famous for its own wine Primitivo di Manduria. I quickly researched whether it was possible to visit the winery and our visit was booked with Produttori di Manduria cantina.
The operation has been in place since 1932 and now forms a cooperative of 400 farmers, who all contribute to this special wine. When you arrive, you will see a busy shop floor with staff dispensing wine into plastic containers, very much petrol station style. This wine is good for casual drinking and judging by the number of customers, it is a very busy area.
But dont linger here as all the treasures are waiting to be discovered. Underneath the shopfloor, there is now a fantastic museum which traces the everyday life of a farmer community. The story is told via personal objects, belonging to the members of the wine cooperative.
I thought this was fascinating, as artifacts are presented in room settings, so it is easy to see what a certain object would have been used for, rather than having them on display behind the glass. We saw a predecessor of the modern fridge, how they used to do laundry and what kind of machinery was used to pump the wine from the storage tanks.
The museum is also an educational place for kids to learn about simpler things in life and how their grandfathers and grandmothers used to live. My kids absolutely loved it and were full of questions to our guide Katia, who was amazing at storytelling and engaging with the kids.
The space, where museum is located now, used to be storage rooms for wine. While you are looking at the exhibits you can imagine, that 50 years ago every single room was filled to the brim with Primitivo wine. You can still see marks on the ceiling. On the ground floor there are plenty of floor windows, which originally allowed to pump the wine and do quality check. Nowdays all the wine is stored in refrigerated containers, outside of the winery and you can see them from the parking lot.
While the guides can share with you how the wine is actually made, I found that the history of the cooperative and the daily lives of the farmers were fascinating.
The upstairs space is also full of objects. There are wine barrels, where the wine is still stored and old barrel carriages. The cantina is widely used for all sorts of educational, cultural events and you will see it in many posters displayed on the walls. First and foremost, it is not just the winery, but a community space where people come together to enjoy finer things in life.
While the winery was affected by Covid, by the time we visited in July, they have resumed all of their services and it was also possible to book tastings and a visit to the museum. You can also do it here.
Next part of our visit was practical wine tasting. We tried 3 wines, one of them being naturally sweet wine Madrigale. The grapes are left on the wine until they become raisins. It makes Madrigale naturally sweet and the taste was absolutely superb!
Katia shared that the cantina only produces this wine in limited quantity each year. Sugar content in the grapes should be at a particular level, and sometimes weather conditions affect the quantity of wine produced in a certain year. Other two wines Elegia and Lirica were complimenting the selection and I would not hesitate to have them at dinner table.
We also tried a couple of local snacks: taralli and sweets , made from honey and nuts. Our guide Katia mentioned that normally the selection would have been extended, but again due to Covid regulations, they had to provide everything in the individual packets.
Another thing to keep in mind when visiting Puglia in he summer is that everyone closes for the siesta from 1 till about 4 or 5pm. Cantina is open non-stop during the busy July and August, so you can visit when it suits you. Katia also suggested that it is great to visit the winery at harvest time, when the smell of grapes permeates every corner in the cantina and cheerful mood is aplenty.
Disclaimer: Our visit was hosted by Produttori di Manduria, but all opinions are my own.