The Cantina Conundrum
Every wine-making business needs a cantina, i.e. a winery - the place where the good stuff happens, where wine is actually made. We have a large cellar-like room at Poggio Golo which would have been ideal. However, it quickly became clear that it is not big enough for the amount of wine we want to/need to/must make (pause to reflect on the appropriateness of the hashtag #firstworldproblems).
So we made a decision to build a 'temporary cantina' in the little time we have before the onslaught of la gente (the people) this season. We realised however (after much tortured and completely unnecessary vaccillation) that the temporary cantina site would not work - neither in the short term, nor in the long term. Having realised that (and yes, it seems obvious now, after the realisation struck), we found a new site. Realistically, the only other site. Realistically, the only site.
So our attention turned to the new site. The (biggish) problem with the new site? Could we get water and electricity connected. This means connected from a distance of about 200m. It doesn’t sound like much of a problem, but given where we are it could be an absolute incubo (nightmare). As we’ve never been afraid of nightmares (that we'll admit to), we plow on.
Before we had even managed to metaphorically connect the plough (we don’t own a plough) to our tractor (we don’t own one of them either) we hit a bigger stumbling block. The site is a vineyard, at least it is categorised as such in the records of the comune (municipality). Now we know the site is not a vineyard. We know it is a field with grass and a few fruit trees. We know this:
because we look at it every day
because our land registry title describes it as that
because CIA (the local wine trade association) does not include it in the calculations of our vineyard.
Is this enough for bureaucratic Italy? Of course not! Che domanda fai?! (Literal translation: What is this question you make?)
So before we can get permission to build on the site, we need the comune’s records to be amended, corrected, adjusted to reflect the real situation. That could take around two.....years. There is a technical committee that needs a report, which must then be submitted to another committee, which may decide to pass on the application in triplicate to the third stage and if we are lucky and the surveyor has had a good cup of espresso that morning and there is a full moon that evening and a local club wins the football match that afternoon, maybe just maybe our application will be approved to amend the records to reflect what is in fact reality. Maybe.
It was time to think out of the box, time to step back and time to scream help.. as loudly as possible. We decided to hit all of our contacts, ranging from our amazing estate agent (we know what wonder woman did after she retired) to our friends and neighbours, to neighbouring vineyards, and of course, to Il Sindaco (the Mayor). This was not a time to be proud. We looked at Google earth to spot locations nearby, either a flat piece of ground we could stick a building on (small problem, we would have to buy the land first) or any existing buildings which could be re-purposed, reimagined, rebuilt.
On the drive to Poggio Golo it is possible to take a back route on a white gravel road through the vineyards. The road twists and turns. It goes up. It goes down. It’s often shrouded in mist. There is a small pond along this back route, which is close to a large, unused warehouse. It was part of a nearby vineyard which has been bought and is being developed. Rumor has it that the house and the shed were bought by an Abu Dhabi sheikh. (What are the chances right?) We know what you're thinking. We need a cantina, which is basically a big bloody shed. Here is a big bloody shed. Surely 2+2 equals Niall meeting and greeting Abu Dhabi sheikh?
So Niall jumped into action. He did a land registry search and found out the name of the company which bought the shed. He got busy searching for details of the company - a perfect marriage of all his skills, old and new. He would use his legal experience, contacts, friends in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and solve our problem. Then, and only then, would Niall explain his triumph to Paari. Yes, every moment of our lives will have brought us to this point in time, and only with our unique background could this amazing solution be delivered.
That’s when our employee, E, called and very elegantly punctured Niall's dreams or, as they say in Ireland, 'pissed on his parade'. While Niall was off searching company names, E was talking to G, our foreman. In the time it took Niall to get absolutely nowhere, E uncovered three possible options. Short term no doubt. A two-year stopgap. But real actionable options for a temporary cantina while we wait for la burocrazia (the bureaucracy) to do its thing. Niall was delighted although it may have been difficult to tell from the look on his face. There is something to be said for moments of personal growth. Particularly if they are experienced in front of one's spouse.
So will any of the options work? Will we get our cantina? Watch this space to find out.
Paari & Niall