Wine & Other Stories

Mario Ronco: The ideal cellar

Written by Piero Pardini

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The cellar is the beating heart of the company where the manual skills of the operators and the knowledge of the winemaker merge. Of course, today, technology is an indispensable element which, however, according to some, has taken poetry away from a work that is lost in the mists of time.

We ask the oenologist Mario Ronco for his opinion on the matter.

© Mario Ronco Enologo

What is your opinion on the statement: “Wine is no longer made in the vineyard, but only in the cellar”? A cliché sentence or does it hide a grain of truth?

As far as I’m concerned, it’s always the raw material that makes the difference. On my web page I wrote: “grapes are the most precious good”. Obviously, the quality of the grapes raises or lowers the maximum point a wine can aspire to, man intervenes in the growth process in many ways, even the harvest date alone can determine enormous differences. In the grape there is everything you need. I try to respect and support its peculiarities, in this way it is possible to express vintage and terroir.

How much has technology in the cellar improved and how depersonalized the work of the winemaker?

Technology is a very important tool I need to accompany the transition from grape to wine. Each vintage is different and each grape deserves to follow its own natural path, only in this way can we have the best that nature has given us.

© Mario Ronco Enologo

According to your experience, which technological tool today is impossible to give up?

I don’t think it can be defined as “technological”: it is the presence in the cellar! Following the winemaking step by step allows you to exercise sensitivity to listen to what the grapes can express.

What are the main criticalities of a winery and what is your modus operandi to solve them?

Each winery has strong and weak points, the uncontrollable variable is the changeability of the vintages, with their ever-changing climatic trend that can force rapid program changes. A cellar capable of adapting immediately to unexpected events is certainly the best performing.

In your imagination, how should your ideal cellar be structured? Did you manage to find it in any company?

The ideal cellar is the one that has yet to be built! Surely, having large capacity in wine vessels of different sizes allows us to be flexible and therefore adapt to the vagaries of the climate. Then there are logistical factors that make all the difference in the world, but wineries are mainly made up of people. So, I think it is the owners’ will to make great wines that creates the ideal cellar.
I am fortunate to work with companies that are strongly focused on obtaining quality. In these cases, the critical issues are easy to overcome.

About the author

Piero Pardini

Founder and editor of "The Wolf Post", Italian based International digital wine platform.
Freelance Journalist.
Wine critic and Sommelier.
He has also written about sports and technology for some specialized magazines.
Co-author of the authorized biography "Gianni Clerici - The writer, the poet the journalist", Le Lettere, Firenze.

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