The Pepe family estate was founded in 1899 and for much of that time it
was dedicated to growing high yields of grapes to sell to a local
co-op. It was only in 1964 that Emidio Pepe decided that the quality of
their grapes was too good to waste and moved towards producing their
own wines. Back then, this was limited to just a single hectare of
vines. Today it stands at around 17 hectares.
While Pepe’s wines today are produced using painstakingly precise
organic and biodynamic techniques, in the 1960s he initially tried to
be ahead of the game, buying the latest and most innovative machinery.
But he soon realised that this would mean constantly upgrading his
machines to meet the demands of a local market known for its cheap,
bland, and young wines. Instead, he took a leap of faith and developed
his own philosophy of winemaking – much to the derision of other
winemakers at the time, many of whom, understandably, were awestruck by
the rapid modernisation of farming technology.
Emidio Pepe is assisted in his work by two of his daughters, Sofia and
Daniela, and granddaughter Chiara. The terroir they work on is in the
hills, between the Adriatic Sea and the Apennine Mountains, creating
excellent conditions for the Montepulciano and Trebbiano grapes that
grow there. The vines are grown up pergolas, which means that the
leaves soak up the hot summer sun, while the grapes hang below in the
cooler shade. This technique also allows better airflow around the
plants. The soil, mainly of clay and calcareous rock, is maintained
using traditional methods, the grapes are picked by hand, and
treatments using synthetic chemicals are strictly avoided. Another
peculiarity of Pepe is that he uses exclusively cement tanks to age his
wines, rather than oak barrels which he feels adds unnecessary oak
tones in the wine. Emidio's wines are unfiltered, unfined, and
sulphites are forbidden.
The Pecorino is the newest edition to the Pepe portfolio with vines
planted in 2006 and the first harvest in 2010. Grapes are
hand-harvested before being crushed by feet. Spontaneous fermentation
with wild year before ageing in concrete tank.