I shall always remember the words of a vineyard tour guide at Sharpham Vineyard in Devon, England. He said, “you never find an ugly vineyard”. Oh, how right he was. Le Vigne Di Raito on the outskirts of Vietri Sul Mare on the Amalfi Coast has to stand out as one of the most picturesque vineyards I have ever visited and I have been to my fair share that’s for sure.
Hugging the hills that create the dramatic coastline, Le Vigne Di Raito is the smallest vineyard on the Amalfi Coast and one of two with a woman as the winemaker. It is also proud to be 100% organic and biodynamic.
The story of the vineyard is an interesting one. Having been abandoned for many years, Patrizia Malanga discovered the vines in Raito going to rack and ruin. In 2001 she purchased the site, rolled up her sleeves and started the hard work of recreating its original splendour respecting the landscape and the environment around her. The ground was cleared and every original vine was replaced with a new one and by 2007 Patrizia had her first red wine the Ragis Rosso followed a little later with a rosé, Vitamenia Rosato.
I visited one evening in May to spend an evening at the vineyard. A tour with the charismatic Alfonso followed by a tasting with Patrizia alongside a seasonal supper complete with wine and delicious limoncello made with Patrizia’s own lemons. In fact, the whole menu for the evening was centred around Patrizia’s homegrown fruit and vegetables.
The evening started with a quick drive to Raito, a village in its own right just a short journey up the hill from Vietri Sul Mare. We had pre-booked a return transfer with the vineyard for a fair price of €20 for the round trip. We were dropped off just outside the vineyard where we met up with our guide and the other participants of our tour. Alfonso talked us through the history of the vineyard as we walked gently uphill through the vines. The views through the vines down to the ocean were breathtaking. Despite the slightly inclement May weather we still managed to capture the beauty that was in front of us. Whilst walking and talking our group quickly realised that this vineyard really was the Malanga families passion. They really have put their heart and souls into creating this stunning organic vineyard. Amongst the vines, we discovered every kind of fruit tree and herb imaginable with lemon groves and olive trees to each side. We were told by Alfonso that on the other side of the hill, Patrizia grows all her own vegetables. It really is a small holding delivering many a delight. The lemons create mouth-watering limoncello and the most delicious lemon jam. The olives, peppery olive oil and the vegetables from just over the brow of the hill make welcome additions to the evening menu.
From the amble through the vines we made our way down to the winery where we learnt briefly about the winemaking process.
From here it was time for the tasting alongside our supper. Normally, Patrizia hosts her tasting and supper on the terrace but as the weather was unseasonably wet she thought it safest to base us inside. Tables were laid restaurant style with one large table and two smaller. Steve and I sat together on one of the smaller tables.
The first wine, the Vitamenia Rosato was poured to enjoy alongside our starter. Fresh local goats cheese served with Patrizia’s own homemade lemon jam and a delightful soup made from baby courgettes and courgette flowers. The fresh flavours worked well with the dryness of the rosé.
Next up we were presented with a slice of aubergine parmigiana. I have to say that this was spectacular. Patrizia has sliced the aubergine so finely that it melted in the mouth. Using ingredients from her garden here you could really taste the freshness of the produce.
Keeping with the ‘fresh from the garden’ theme next came the pasta course. A mish-mash of pasta shapes with a legume sauce. Fresh peas, garlic and onion slow cooked to create a thick sauce. Parmigiano – Regianno was served alongside if required.
The first of the reds was opened. The Ragis Rosso 2015. This was light and fresh and went particularly well with the earthiness of the pasta dish. Steve particularly loved this wine and if we had had enough space in our luggage a couple (or more) bottles would have made their way back to England that’s for sure!
Our final course before dessert was local swordfish simply cooked with tomatoes. With this, we sampled the Ragis Rosso 2013. A more robust wine. As delicious as the 2015 vintage but with the extra couple of years ageing in the bottle the flavours had intensified.
Dessert was a local delicacy that I had seen in many menus in the area. Delizie al Limone is a lemon dessert made with limoncello soaked sponge cake and lemon cream. It’s seriously good and a marvellous end to our meal. Of course, Patrizia served us her homemade limoncello alongside. The whole meal was delicious and with it all being grown and cooked on the premises by Patrizia and her small team it made it all the more special.
I highly recommend visiting Le Vigne Di Raito if you are in the Vietri Sul Mare/Amalfi Coast area. You will be welcomed with open arms.
A vineyard and winery tour followed by a traditional Italian supper with wine tasting will cost you €95 per person.
Disclaimer: This is not a gifted or paid post. I just wanted to write about my lovely experience at Le Vigne Di Raito.