Nobody embodies tradition in Valpolicella Classica more than the family Speri, and the vineyards that bear their name. The family appear in the archives as winemakers as far back as 1874, and it was eleven years later when Carlo Speri founded a wine dynasty, one which to this day remains family-run, and whose wines are steeped in old-school values combined with modern know-how, produced with respect for the land and for its unique qualities and history.
Following Carlo, six more generations of Speri have cultivated and expanded their holdings around the village of San Pietro in Cariano, three of which join forces today to run the winery.
Their feeling for tradition and for sense of place can be seen everywhere, from the marogne (stone drywalls) which divide their lands, to the organic certification they received in 2015 following years of effort towards making the viticulture environmentally responsible and sustainable. They even take the unusual step of only allowing the most local and native of grape varieties into their wine – as well as the usual corvina, corvinone, molinara and rondinella, they prefer to use grapes such as cabrosina, pelara, oseleta and rossanella to round out the rest of the blend, rather than the more customary merlot, cabernet sauvignon or sangiovese. Furthermore, in a time when more and more winemakers are interested in the freedom afforded by the growing category of the IGT Rosso Veronese, Speri continue to focus exclusively on the traditional DOC and DOCG wines which have made the region famous: Valpolicella Classico, Ripasso della Valpolicella, Amarone della Valpolicella, and the sweet Recioto della Valpolicella.
They are, however, by no means hostile to innovation. They have adopted enthusiastically the practice of crafting single-vineyard wines, unusual in Valpolicella; from their prize sites of Monte Sant’Urbano and La Roggia they produce a Ripasso, an Amarone and a Recioto which are noted for their extraordinary distinctiveness and fruit purity. Perhaps most influentially, they are also responsible for an innovation in training the vines, adjusting the traditional ‘pergola veronese’ method to increase the grapes’ sun exposure, a method which now bears their name: ‘pergoletta Speri’.
It is in these ways that Speri can be seen to encapsulate the balance in Valpolicella between respect for the past, for the ways which built the region and its reputation in the first place, and the way innovation can be harnessed to protect that distinctiveness, and help it flourish. A family dedicated to this land and its peculiar agriculture, the Speri produce wine that could only be from one place in the world, and will doubtless continue to do so for generations to come.