In 1960, a group of 33 winemakers in Italy’s central Campania region decided to join together and create a co-operative, and La Guardiense was born. Today, the company has around 1,000 members, who farm over 1500 hectares of vineyards between them along the 40km length of valley and slopes around La Guardia, near Benevento.
This area is part of Sannio, a sub region in the north of Campania, which was named after the Samnites, a pre-Roman people whose wines were mentioned favourably by ancient philosophers such as Cato and Horace. The hillside vineyards here produce the best grapes as they avoid extremes of hot and cold temperatures throughout the year.
The growers supply many local Campanian producers with bulk wine, but it is the co-op’s Janare range of wines that is its greatest achievement. Janare – a local word for a friendly witch, and a nod to the region’s famous history of alleged witchcraft – is a range produced and bottled by the co-op itself. It focusses on native grape varieties ideally suited to the region’s volcanic soils, such as falanghina (in fact, the co-op cultivates the vast majority of the world’s falanghina vines), fiano, greco and aglianico. The grapes for the Janare brand are sourced from specific vineyard sites – the range’s Lucchero Aglianico is even a single-vineyard wine – which imparts a more concentrated character.
The company’s winery boasts much modern technology, including a fantastic and unique solar power system. Since 2006, the winery has undergone a revolution in quality and innovation, thanks to the company’s decision to employ Riccardo Cotarella, one of Italy’s most famous and well-respected oenologists, and the recipient of several winemaker awards. His influence and experience has transformed the co-op into one of the most important in southern Italy.