Creta Paglia is named for homes made of red brick and straw, architecture that was very common in the winery’s hometown of San Marco Argentano. The winery is run by the insanely passionate Antonello Canonico, who set off on his own in 2017 after leaving his partnership with one of Calabria’s most well known natural wine makers, L’Acino.
Antonello is farming on three hectares in his hometown, a place he describes as an island cut off from the rest of Calabria. To the south, mountains rise well over 2000 meters, with a smaller but beautiful mountain range to the north as well. Most amazing of all is the fact that in just 15/20 minutes, you can find your way to the ocean and some of the bluest water Italy has to offer. Driving from Campania is an absolute adventure on the “autostrada del sole” as you wind up and down mountains on a road that can lead you all the way to Sicily.
San Marco Argentano sits at 600 meters, and it possesses a diurnal range that is similar to that of the Avellino in Campania, or even parts of Abruzzo. On Kelsey & my first trip here, we were shocked by the terrain and the enormity of the surrounding mountains. This is a totally different place (and climate) that that of Ciro’, which is located on the coast about 2 hours southeast of San Marco.
Beyond the terrain, Calabria alongside Sicily has been the “vault” for some of Ancient Greece’s oldest cultivars that include Mantonica, Guardavalle and Magliocco. It’s Antonello’s feeling that these grapes may have arrived from places like Georgia, where the world’s first wines were produced.
Fortunately, thanks to dedicated producers like Antonello, we are starting to hear about these grapes again. Given the mass migration of tens of thousands of people from the region in the early 1900s Calabrian wine production became an afterthought. On my most recent trip with Antonello, he basically took me to every vineyard in the village, as he is friends with the older generation that maintains these properties. Sadly, hardly any of these vineyards were in production, or they were, the wine was for home consumption only. Here we were in one of the most unique wine regions I’ve seen in Italy, it’s a shame that so few of these old vineyards were still producing wine.This is the reason Antonello never stops. His mission is to shed light on his beloved region and help others work up the courage to begin producing wines here.