North of Verona, in the town of Negrar, at the Valpolicella zone’s highest point, the Le Ragose estate overlooks the surrounding countryside. In this highly fragmented region given over to small landholdings, what sets Le Ragose apart is its substantial size and high elevation: 70 acres in one entire holding at 1,148 ft.
In 1969, enologists Arnaldo Galli and his wife Marta bought the Le Ragose estate, which had been abandoned. Recognizing that many excellent vineyard sites had been abandoned in favor of more easily-farmed sites on the plains, they replanted the Le Ragose vineyard while leaving the original vines in the ancient Le Sassine vineyards and began making Amarone and Valpolicella in as natural a way as possible.
At Le Ragose, 40 acres of terraced vines face southwest on steep slopes, well above the frequent, notorious winter nebbia (fog), which lingers below. The soil is clay laced with magnesium, calcium and iron on well-draining tuffaceous subsoil. The ideal “above-the-fog” location (low humidity and excellent sun exposure) is particularly suited for appassimento, the process of drying grapes essential to Amarone production.
At Le Ragose, local grapes Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella are blended with the indigenous varieties discovered in the ancient Le Sassine vineyard. The estate’s vineyards are dry-farmed (no irrigation) and the steep vineyard slopes require all vineyard work to be done by hand. Le Ragose is one of only 5 growers in the whole of Valpolicella that does not buy grapes.
Marta Galli, often referred to as “La Signora del Vino,” was voted “Winemaker of the World” in 1990 by her peers, in part because of her influence in re-establishing Valpolicella as a classic in Italian wine and helping it achieve a DOC designation. She was also a founding member of the prestigious VIDE organization of small family-owned estates that promote excellence and typicity, as well as Le Donne del Vino, an international group for women in wine. The Galli children Paolo (manager) and Marco (winemaker) now manage the property and remain faithful in the vision they share with their parents—a vision where even the simplest wines are made to evolve and age beautifully for years.
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