The Val Sarmassa Nature Reserve surprises with its myriad facets: extraordinary paleontological treasures, natural landscapes of extraordinary beauty, unique panoramic viewpoints, historic vineyards that are more than 50 years old and ancient literary suggestions that bear the signature of Davide Lajolo, writer, partisan and politician from Vinchio.
The hill, the vineyard, the forest, the man: these are the elements that make up the history and landscape of Val Sarmassa, where the natural and human components merge, diving harmoniuously into that ‘green sea’ described by Lajolo.
Just this year we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Val Sarmassa Nature Reserve and the 20th anniversary of I Tre Vescovi, on the occasion of the 15th edition of the Agrarian Landscape Festival “Paesaggio come Emozione e Narrazione” (“Landscape as Emotion and Narrative”).
The Special Nature Reserve of Val Sarmassa
It was back in the 1970s when some financial speculators tried to savagely exploit these woodlands. The false promise of employment envisaged the construction of a hotel complex that would boost tourism in the area, however Davide Lajolo unmasked the scam through the pages of the Corriere della Sera, and interpreted the feelings of the people of Vinchio in the story I Mè, entitled “Questa valle è il mio mare” (‘This valley is my sea’).
“I know, I know all the storms in the world, I’m inside them and I won’t back down,
but right now I’m with the nightingale and I’m trembling with tenderness.” Davide Lajolo
The situation was critical: a good chunk of land was now in the hands of speculators who had decided to turn the area into a rubbish dump. It was then that the appeal “Salviamo la Val Sarmassa” (‘Let’s save Val Sarmassa’) appeared in the pages of La Stampa on April 5th, 1987.
From here began a period of struggles, meetings, demonstrations, collection of signatures and marches to raise public awareness. Operations that found full support from the owners of the land between Vinchio, Vaglio Serra, Cortiglione and Incisa Scapaccino, but above all from the Cantina Cooperativa di Vinchio Vaglio, which played a key role in the story.
Thus it was that, thanks to increasingly massive popular action, on June 9th, 1993, the Piedmont Region instituted the Val Sarmassa Special Nature Reserve.
It is here that in the shade of dense trees and bushes, the sun’s rays can warm lilies of the valley, primroses and wild orchids. It is here that broom bushes and juniper plants can be found, hawthorn and rosemary borders defend the vineyards. It is here that we find La Ru, the mythical, centuries-old oak, the scene of legends in Davide Lajolo’s books. But it is also here that we find the huts that recall the workings of the past, the ancient fossils of the Pliocene, as well as the partisans dressed in leaves and branches, the masche and legendary figures narrated by Lajolo.
I Tre Vescovi
Inside the Val Sarmassa Nature Reserve, there is a place called “I Tre Vescovi” (‘The Three Bishops’) where the bishoprics of Asti, Acqui and Alessandria adjoin, and where, to this day, a memorial stone bears witness.
The location of the place was known to few because it was the destination of secret meetings of the three bishops to discuss on the most delicate decisions. And agreement was always found, given the wisdom of the cardinals, but also thanks to a few excellent glasses of Barbera that were offered to them!
On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the Reserve, the Winery chose to christen with the name I Tre Vescovi the Barbera that was to become Vinchio Vaglio’s best known and most representative.
I Tre Vescovi is a Barbera d’Asti Superiore that is the result of a careful selection of grapes from vineyards that are over 30 years old; aged in 75 hl oak casks for about 12 months, it is a fruity and elegant wine, characterised by excellent drinkability, even on a daily basis.
Why is the territory so important for Vinchio Vaglio?
Because a Reserve helps us to understand the evolution of the environment through the centuries, to learn from a past when men’s life was in perfect harmony with nature, it serves to guard the secrets of our oldest vineyards and to protect a rich heritage of flora and fauna, as well as cultural species.
The Val Sarmassa Nature Reserve serves to cherish our history and ensure its legacy to our children.
It is for these reasons that, based on Davide Lajolo’s phrase “Vinchio is my cradle”, Cantina Vinchio Vaglio has created a nature trail which, starting from the winery’s courtyard, intersects the Val Sarmassa trails and leads to Vinchio’s Big Bench to protect and preserve the heritage of this incredible land.
Would you like to discover this area on foot? Download the itinerary!
We’ll be waiting for you at the winery!