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Less than 10 kilometers from the coast of the Gulf of Tranto lies the city of Manduria, Puglia. Gregory Perrucci was born and raised here. Despite years of training as a classical pianist, he  chose to become the 3rd generation winemaker in his family. In 1992, he  founded Agricola Felline.


Gregorio Perrucci was the first child in a working class family. Prior to the Second World War, he was a worker on the farms of various Mandurian nobility. His safe return from the war, was fortuitously at a time of change in Italy. The Agrarian Reform in Italy was essentially a land redistribution effort in the 1950’s. It set about to systematically end feudalism, by allocating portions of the nobility’s farmland to those who previously worked the fields. In the wine world, many of these sparked the growth of cooperatives referred to as palmenti. This was due largely to the necessity form collectives since the farmers now had land and product, but lacked the capital to independently produce wine, much less bottle and market it. Gregorio seized this opportunity to carve out his own niche within this new system. He joined with his brothers to broker the bulk sale of the wine produced by families in Manduria. In the vineyards, Gregorio became the go-to for the grafting of new Primitivo vines. With time, his ability to distinguish between and identify the attributes of different Primitivo strands grew exponentially, as well as his skills at understanding the various grapes’ attributes in relation to the varying soils of the region.


As the 1960’s roll in, Italy starts to pull itself out of post-war misery. Gregorio’s eldest son, Costantino, following in the footsteps of his uncle Florenzo, carries on with the brokerage business. Meanwhile, as families from the rural south emigrate to the industrial north, there is a surge in the popularity of southern wines, including those from Puglia. However, the post war production shifts, with the rise of the cooperatives, were beginning to sacrifice the quality of the wine in Manduria, as well as the unique identity of the place. Therefore, Costantino and his brothers decided it was a good time to build their own winery.


The European Common Market, a precursor to the EU, was established in 1973. This removed tariffs and effectively opened up markets for wine producers throughout Europe. This was very instrumental in the modern growth of the Puglian wine industry. Costantino had become a major player in the production of bulk wine for international markets. Once the third winery was operating, they were capable of filling entire sea tankers of wine, weekly. In the 1970’s Italy was the largest exporter of wine to the United States. By the mid 1990’s they were now one of the largest bulk wine producers in all of Italy, shipping over 100 million liters per year. 


In 1992, Costantino’s eldest son, Gregory, joined the company. Despite having studied accounting first and then having trained as a concert pianist, he found his real passion was for the production of wine, and the history of his family’s region, and the wines that are its very life blood. After having finished his Master’s Degree in Economics in 1987, Gregory returned to the family business with a focus to create a quality wine side of the business. Additionally, he exhibits a keen interest in Primitivo. He sets about acquiring unique sites, while modernizing the winemaking techniques. This pursuit brings him to California.


The world of California wine has myriad distinctions. Zinfandel may well be one of the biggest. Long considered the lone native California Vitis Vinifera grape, it was not until 1993 that DNA testing carried out by Carole Meredith at UC Davis confirmed that Zinfandel and Primitivo were clones of the same variety. Then it would take another 8 years to confirm the true parent of both grapes was the Croatian grape, Crljenak Kastelanski. Throughout this saga, Gregory was trying to find out why Zinfandel was an absolute rock star, while Primitivo was largely unknown.

He had turned to Salvatore Mero, a native son of Primitivo and the ancient tecniques to produce it. Along with oenologist, Roberto Cipresso,, they set about experimenting. Most importantly, Gregory returned from California with clippings from perhaps the most esteemed of all Zinfandels; draper clones from the Geyserville site owned by Ridge Vineyards. These clippings were then grafted to vines in alluvial black soils in Manduria. It is from these vines that Felline’s famed Sinfarosa Zinfandel is produced.


In 1996, Felline was born out of the family’s bulk wine business. Their new, modern, clean Primitivo di Manduria would become the cornerstone and flagship of this new brand. Additionally, he begins to experiment with blending indigenous grapes, in a modern, more marketable way. Additionally, regional and international varieties are planted and vinified, and begin showing up as an integral part of Felline’s repertoire.


In 1997, Gregory founded the Accademia dei Racemi. The project was formed to identify, experiment, and potentially market and sell indigenous Puglian varieties. It was with this organization that Primitivo began making advances in quality, prestige, and sales. It began as a small group of vineyards focused on the experimentation of soils and their relationship to specific indigenous varieties. Over time, they began to have a lasting impact on the Puglian wine community, and indeed on Southern Italian wine as a whole. From these initatives, Primitivo has flourished along with other indigenous varieties such as Negramaro, Malvasia Nera, Ottavianello, and Sussumaniello.




Anarkos is a blend of Malavasia Nera, Negramaro and Primitivo, blended from sites around Apuglia. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel. This is dark-fruited, brambly, juicy, with soft medium tannins. It is equally fruity and earthy; a decidedly old wine world that would appeal to new wine drinkers. Grilled meat is an excellent pairing, as well a rich sauce over your favourite pasta.




This is 100% Negramaro, sourced from specific sites in Apuglia. Despite this grape’s ability to produce big wines, this is a more refined, subtle application of this native variety. The fruit tends towards black, with some soft prune notes, licorice, and a touch of spiced black olives. This is not unlike Minervois; very Mediterranean.


Primitivo di Manduria


This is 100% Primitivo grown in ferrus red soils on the Felline estate, and made by the Professor of Primitivo himself, Gregory Perrucci. This leans towards the spicy, cherries, and red berries that Primitivo can be capable of. With soft tannins, medium high alcohol, and moderate acid, this is a solid sipper, as well as a great BBQ wine.



Sinfarosa Zinfandel


This is 100% Zinfandel, grown in black soils from 20 year old Draper clones, grafted by Gregory Perrucci. This multiple Tre Bicchieri winner. This is aged in French and American Oak. As expected, this shows both Primitivo and Zinfandel traits; licorice, brambly purple fruit, rhubarb, potpourri, and black currants, menthol, and balsamic vinegar. The tannins are medium soft, the alcohol his ample, yet intergrated, and the acid is lively. This would be excellent with Lamb Chops with sweet sesame and soy.




This is 100% Primitivo from one of the “crus” of Manduria. Giravolta is southwest of Manduria and the vines are planted to tuffaceous-stone from breaking calcareous stones. These soils are very well-drained, requiring the vines to burrow deep and work hard for any and all water and nutrients, which brings extra complexity to the finished wine. Giravolta is aged in oak for 9 months. This wine shows some classic spicy, Zin notes, with bluer fruit, soft tannins, juicy brambly mid palate, and vanilla and spice. This would be lovely with a pork roast with fruit sauce, Peking duck, or a Geeral Tso’s chicken.



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