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Brush with death leads to viticultural seachange

Vineyards and Viking: Traveltalk's Jon Underwood continues his journey aboard the Orion

It’s really hard to concentrate when your tour guide for the day looks like an Italian version of Redfoo. I kept expecting Simone to break out into an impromptu chorus of Let’s Get Ridiculous at any moment.


Fortunately, there was enough to love about the Ceraudo Winery just outside Crotone to keep such whimsical daydreams at bay.


The family-run estate was founded by Roberto Ceraudo in 1973 and in the 1980’s became the first to produce organic wine and olive oil in the region. Remarkably, this switch from traditional to organic only came about through an incident that almost cost Roberto his life.



Some of the pesticide he was using on his crops in those early days spilled and accidentally poisoned him. He was in intensive care for a while and it was touch and go if he’d make it. Thankfully he made a full recovery, but now pesticides are banned…and his wines and olive oil are so much tastier for it.


One of the highlights when you visit the estate as part of an optional excursion with Viking is a half hour tractor ride around the estate. As you chug around the 80-hectare property, listening to the incessant chirping of the cicadas, you’ll learn that some of the olive trees here are more than 1,500 years old and that Roberto can often be found talking to them. They are like his children, even though his three actual children help run the business.


After the tractor ride, Roberto’s son Giuseppe (who is the winemaker) will explain how they make the 70,000 bottles a year, split into three whites, three reds and two reserves. Of course, it wouldn’t be a wine tour without a tasting and you’ll get a generous pour of the Grisara (delicious!), the Imyr and the Dattilo.


For those who fall in love with the place – or maybe want to drink much more of their wine - you can also stay on the property with the small but comfortable rooms costing between €80 and €100 (approx. $125 and $160) a night, depending on the season. The estate’s restaurant, Dattilo, has a Michelin star, so not only can you drink delicious wine, you can also have a top meal at the same time.


My visit to Ceraudo was definitely a tour highlight and an excellent way to spend half a day, proving that sometimes good things can come out of a near tragedy.  


Written by: Jon Underwood
Published: 9 July 2018

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