Sometimes it’s hard to understand the connection between the things that befall you. They can be a choice made istinctively, or a casual encounter. These things can pass by unnoticed, or they can change your life. That’s what I thought when I met Patrick Uccelli and while he was telling me his story. Because maybe the fact that his mother told him about a degree course in oenology while he was living in Austria has been an important rawplug in the mosaic of his life.
He was born in Bozen and he decided to study Medicine, but soon he moved towards historical and philosophical studies, and then he travelled and worked between Austria and Germany. He was working for a wine shop when his mother called him and told him about this course in Trento. Since his family owned an estate in South Tyrol, and since “nothing happens by chance“, as he told me, he decided to undertake this road.
After graduating he worked in Sicily, Tunisia and Apulia, then he came back to Trentino where he has been the oenologist for the Distillery G. Bertagnolli. During these experiences he sharpened his sensitivity towards his concept of wine. In 2008 he began to work in his own estate in Salurn, 30 km far from Bozen. His approach is driven by the values of biodynamic agriculture of Rudolf Steiner. That means that he has full respect for the relations that are in the vineyard, and that he tries to produce a wine as much natural as possible, in an unremitting process of improvement. A thing on which he dwelled during our conversation is the fact that he doesn’t care of numbers, statistics and so on, because “average doesn’t consider minimum and maximum, but in nature everything is important, every little part”. What is more important is having imagination, inspiration and intuition, which come from commitment and direct relation with your work, but he’s “not talking about work, but rather about life”.
The estate he owns needed to be redesigned, and Patrick did it respecting for example the fact that the terraces had been built for oxen and not for tractors… In this perspective the vineyard has been modernized, the vines have been planted (here is the crucial point of Patrick’s efforts, because in the choice of the clones and the species the research is nearly philological).
According to the principles of biodynamic agriculture, the right farm should produce everything it needs inside itself. Patrick conjugates this principle in his vineyard by taking muck from a friend’s farm, and by fertilizing it with 5-6 different plants. In the matter of pesticides, these ones are “forbidden”, and replaced, as much as possible, by natural products or preparations. In Patrick’s vineyard there are also rosebushes and beehives, proof of its wealth.
The case of Ansitz Dornach, which is the name of the estate, is the typical case of an individual who looks after every single step of the production and who turns to a restricted group of people: you can find his wines just in few places, mostly in restaurants and not in wineshops. For now there is one wine on the market, XY, which is a Pinot blanc: vintage 2008 is now available, whereas 2009 will be available in 2011. Next year will be available also XX, a Pinot noir. These names seem curious but if you think of the mental process which lies behind you’ll find them very appropriate!
An aspect on which Patrick has dedicated himself is the communication. The logo that is on the top of the bottle for example is a part of his old family’s coat of arms, and represents a peacock, which is symbol of rebirth, and it’s guessed if you think of the story of the vineyard that is now producing again after years and also if you think of the story of Patrick, who has been able, and will be able in the future, why not, to reinvent himself and his whole life; as well the wave that flows in the writing “Dornach” well describes the movement and the dynamism of his ideas and life.