There's a Wine Made By Prisoners in Italy, and It's Really Good

By Charles Antin |
ITALIAN PRISON WINE

Gorgona © Marchesi de'Frescobaldi

Here are some facts about Gorgona: It's a white wine, a blend of the grapes Vermentino and Ansonica. It's made on the small island of the same name—Gorgona—off the Tuscan coast. It costs $90—a lot, though it's really good. But the most notable thing about Gorgona is who makes it: convicted criminals.

Pruno, this is not. Its producer, Marchesi de' Frescobaldi, is known for an extensive line of Tuscan wines. But these days the winery's president, Lamberto Frescobaldi, only wants to discuss Gorgona, which he conceived with the help of local prison officials.

Being imprisoned on Gorgona is a privilege granted to male inmates with more than five years to serve, and on good behavior. No sex offenders. No Mafia. Those are the ground rules. But, says Frescobaldi, some of the vineyard workers may have killed a person or two. In fact, the most infamous inmate is Benedetto Ceraulo, who murdered Maurizio Gucci in 1995 (yes, that Gucci). Frescobaldi's hope is that by learning a skill, the prisoners will be able to find work on the outside, reducing recidivism. Frescobaldi himself will even offer jobs to those who want them—once they've served their time, of course.

With help from Frescobaldi's experts, the (solely volunteer) group just released 2,700 bottles of its first vintage, 1,000 of which will be available in various Italian restaurants and retailers in the US.

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