The Italian Almanac


Italian News - December 24

Not everyone in Italy owns a vineyard in Chianti. Most people live in cramped apartments in cities such as Rome and Naples where the idea of harvesting grapes has, until now, been an unattainable dream. But no longer: this year's essential Christmas present for urban Italians is a miniature vineyard that can be planted in a window box or grown on the smallest balcony.

Paolo Roiatti, who runs a garden centre near Udine in northern Italy, came up with the idea after experimenting with planting vines in confined spaces. "The roots are unable to expand but it doesn't prevent them growing and bearing fruit," he said. "My intention is to bring the vines to people who are unable to go and see them in the country."

Frustrated townies have been snapping up the miniature vineyards, which cost less than 100, as novel Christmas presents. The package comes in kit form with a zinc-coated pot, plastic plant pot, vine plants, canes to support the vine, wires to tie the canes together and strings to fix the vine shoots.

A range of vines can be grown - the most popular being sangiovese, nebbiolo, cabernet sauvignon, pinot grigio, grechetto and chardonnay. Mr Roiatti also sources rare species such as schioppettino. Just as on a hillside vineyard, owners of the pocket vineyards can choose a form of cultivation - single row, double, row, canopy or arch effect. The only thing they have to provide is soil, easily available in any garden centre.