At age 22, we were dominating flip cup (Blake) and transitioning from vanilla-vodka-and-cokes to much more sophisticated Jamison-and-gingers (MacKenzie). Arianna Occhipinti was starting her vineyard. Ten years later, Occhipinti wines are something of a cult favorite, their draw strong enough to bring us to the agricultural region around the city of Vittoria.
Arianna’s wines are all natural: no pesticides, no irrigation, no preservatives. Our sweet and seemingly tireless vineyard guide, Alessandra, explained that irrigation produces grapes that are overly coddled and unremarkable, B- minus students who “just really need to take a couple semesters off because snowboarding is where I feel most whole.” Take away the water, and you get hardy vines whose roots extend deep into the mineral-abundant earth and whose fruit is sugar-rich—the better to attract insects that will help spread the seeds.
The care Arianna puts into her wine is evident. Without getting too much into arcane tasting notes, they’re delicious, particularly her SP68 white. It’s a blend of TK and moscato, the latter lending sweet notes to the nose that make the bright minerality of the wine something of a surprise.
Oh, also, there are puppies. This one goes by Xeno.