Lisa Gilbee is an Australian winemaker working in Puglia and struggling to resurrect interest in old bush-trained or alberello (“little tree”) Primitivo before it becomes extinct. “This is the reason we are here,” she says in an accent halfway between an Australian drawl and smartly clipped Italian.
Since 2001, she and her husband, Gaetano Morella of Morella Wines, have been working with 75-year-old bush-trained vines from their own vineyard, as well as a diminishing group of local winegrowers around Lecce in Puglia. As the number of alberello growers shrinks, she worries about the relatively low prices she can charge for her wines, especially her flagships La Signora and Old Vines Primitivo. Both are priced around €38 ($41.70), not enough to discourage grape growers from removing the alberello in favour of more productive modern vine trellising.