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At San Masseo, a stone’s throw from Assisi, Bose monks produce Grechetto and welcome pilgrims

The 2 hectares of vineyards are cultivated with the help of guests, who find peace here. Proceeds from sales are used to renovate the Monastery

There is a magical place in Umbria where the vine has been cultivated for nearly a thousand years: San Masseo is a Benedictine monastery on the slopes of Assisi that has undergone ups and downs over the centuries, but from time immemorial religious of various orders have reclaimed and cleared its land, as well as built water collection systems around it, cultivated olive trees and planted vines. For the past several years it has been the monks of Bose who have breathed new life into this place, welcoming anyone who wishes to spend a period of peace, be they men or women, non-believers or believers of any religion. Today the monks cultivate personally, and sometimes with the help of guests, two hectares of vineyards of Grechetto, a Todi variety, and Merlot. The proceeds from the sale of the bottles - four wines and one Vermouth - go entirely to the renovation of the Monastery and the reception of pilgrims and wayfarers. After all, that of abbey wines is an ancient tradition that, in recent years, has come back into the limelight, with niche productions in all regions of Italy, brought together and celebrated at an ad hoc event in Priverno, Lazio.
The Monastery of San Masseo can be visited at any time of the year (with prior reservation) and it is also possible to stay overnight in the rooms located in one of the buildings. One can walk among the rows of vineyards, see how they are worked and taste the fruit. According to the monks, in fact, “through the work of the land, which is at the same time work on our humanity, we can remain capable of recognizing in the face of those we welcome, whether known or foreign, first and foremost a face of humanity for which we can give thanks, perhaps drinking a glass of good wine together”.
Here the grapes are hand-picked and then vinified in a friendly winery, and the result is four wines and a vermouth of the highest standard. The Grechetto di Todi vineyard is more than 50 years old, tended entirely by hand, and yields few bottles of Grechetto di Assisi Doc Bio. Even fewer are bottles of “Masseo”, 100% Grechetto di Todi, which is fermented in barriques to give it more structure and complexity. Since last year a portion of the vineyard has been dedicated to a late harvest, which allows for a Grechetto raisin wine. The fourth wine is “Rubeum”, a fresh and fragrant Merlot produced from a vineyard that is about 20 years old. The idea for the vermouth, also called “Masseo”, came about by chance: a few years ago, some of the Grechetto wine production, due to a mistake, had minor oxidation defects and thus had become a waste product. One of the monks had the idea: why not try to make a vermouth out of it? One of the best producers in Piedmont was contacted and proposed using (in addition to the classic absinthe and juniper) Mediterranean botanicals, particularly those from Mount Subasio on the slopes of which Assisi and the Monastery are located. Anyone with some familiarity with the Bible will not miss the connection between the event and the words of Psalm 117: “the stone discarded by the builders has become the cornerstone”. This is also the philosophy of the monks of Bose: just as from a discarded product a new product of great quality can be obtained, so from every human being who comes to the monastery seeking peace to soothe his or her wounds, a totally new, living and rich human being can emerge.
It is also no coincidence that the labels of all San Masseo wines feature the owl, a symbol of the goddess of Wisdom, Athena or Minerva, which, since ancient times, had been taken as a symbol by early monks with the intention of affirming that “they” were the true wise. The owl is also a bird that keeps watch in the night, normally solitary, and thus reminds us of two other characteristics that monks seek to live by: vigilance and solitude.
For info and visits (by reservation only): 075 8155261 - sanmasseo@monasterodibose.it

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