February 9, 2016 | Rome, Italy | Partly Cloudy 13°C

The naturalists

Antonio Marino and Marisa Gabbianelli: a different vision.
By Gina Tringali
Published: 2016-01-30

ne could argue that Les Vignerons owners Antonio Marino and Marisa Gabbianelli were children when they first tasted natural wine. "I come from a family of farmers and grew up in the countryside near Benevento. We made our own wine. It was contadino wine, artisanal. It was common to sip wine even as a child."

In 2006, at Verona’s Villa Boschi wine fair, Antonio tasted wines by Le Coste and Dario Princic, two of Italy's historic natural wine producers — and the childhood memories came rushing back. "Princic's Sauvignon, which is no longer produced, stuck me. I remembered the wine that I drank as a kid near home. It hit me as I left Villa Boschi, I had an epiphany of sorts. I had tasted something different."

Marisa grew up in a town outside of Rome where wine was a staple at family lunches and dinners. One day, drinking a Pinot Grigio, she had her own Princic moment. "Up to that point every Pinot Grigio I had tried was clear white. What I saw in Princic's Pinot Grigio was its true color. It made me question why producers altered the color of wines and more."

Since then, Antonio and Marisa have dug deeply into the subject of natural wines and craft beer. They’ve attended hundreds of tastings, done extensive research and met countless producers throughout Europe.

The wines stocked by Les Vignerons are free of the chemistry that has become the norm in commercial wines.

These explorations led to the discovery of small vintners who intervened only minimally in the winemaking process, keeping chemicals and artifice at bay. In 2010, they opened their own wine and beer shop, Les Vignerons, in the Tor Pignattara neighborhood of Rome. Their success has allowed to move to more central digs, with a Trastevere location set to open by late February.

Gina Tringali discussed their philosophy and individual paths over coffee. These are excerpts from their chat.

Talk to me about the name Les Vignerons and what it means to you?

Antonio: Les Vignerons were those who broke away from the large Maisons in France not just literally but also in terms of their mentality. They set aside assistance from chemicals (pesticides, industrial fertilizers, and so on), and focused instead on terroir. Our Les Vignerons store encompasses this small world. It's about promoting producers who do quality work, without attracting much attention. This also applies also to beer and how it’s made. We choose beers from small producers too who work as artisans.

How was the shop born?

There were various steps. Marisa and I worked together in an enoteca where the owner wasn't all that interested in natural wines. He favored traditional names that would sell easily. At the same time, the craft beer world was beginning to explode in Rome. It wasn't at today's levels but there was a lot of interest and even a few places where you could drink it.

The hole-in-the-wall enoteca is now moving to Trastevere.

We talked about opening a shop in 2009, envisioning a place that offered natural wines and select niche craft beers. When we opened in 2010, our intention was to offer only wines made without chemicals by small artisans and beer made through spontaneous fermentation, which is very similar and tied to natural wine.

At the time, there were only six or seven beer shops in Rome, and Alessandro Bulzoni’s shop [a wine store on Viale Parioli] was the only point of reference for natural wines.

What about the beer side?

From the start, we knew we wanted to offer beer and wine that was linked to a specific territory, which expresses terroir. Historically, styles of beer were born in different countries and these countries are often the best representation of that style. We decided to focus on craft beers made in a traditional way, such as lambic — the classic Belgian sour beer — and on German brews, especially from Franconia, and British brews. We also paid attention to new U.S. and Italy trends, and to what was happening in Spain, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

Print | Email | | | 1 2 3 | Full Page


Letizia Mattiacci

Rock of rescue

How a Sri Lankan citadel, determination, and a lot of ginger tea can save your life.


Reflections on a demon-ousting Umbrian Sagrantino wine leads to thoughts of tasty risotto.


Eleonora Baldwin

Feeding sickness

When it comes to dealing with winter colds and flu, Italy has its own set of food rules.

Talking a blue streak

Italy's abundant and delicious blue cheeses, led by Gorgonzola, are a feast for the willing.


Suzanne Dunaway

Socca to me

In French, coup de foudre means lightening bolt, as in love at first sight, so meet Cupid's pancake.

Nuts to the New Year

When party nuts won't go away following the holiday festivities, transform them using magic.


Gina Tringali

The naturalists

Rome's Antonio Marino and Marisa Gabbianelli are devoted to selling natural wine and beer.

The sumptuous 24th

Seafood and wine powers Christmas Eve for many Italian and Italian-American families.


Marco Lori

Forget Starsky & Hutch

Robberies happen about once every two minutes in Italy, so forget the SWAT teams.

Meet, eat, pour, repeat

Between late December and mid-January, Italy does one thing well: eat. And you had better play by the rules.


Germano Zaini

Cooking with the stars

A cooking seminar sees a home chef frolic with the masters and emerge drenched in new ingredients.


Tripping over your child's toy truck can make you re-evaluate what should and shouldn't be at home.


Elisa Scarton Detti

Maintaining the species

The prospect of a baby might be nicer if you knew they sucked it out gradually.


Eleonora Saravalle

Another day, another tab

When Facebook becomes way of life, so does distracti... oh, that baby elephant is so cute!


Mark Campbell

The trouble with "B"

For bisexuals, the road to social and sexual acceptance is still riddled with potholes.


Day and Boarding International High School in the Heart of Rome

Everything you need to know about visiting or moving to Tuscany, Italy.