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After working a harvest in Champagne at the age of 22, Gianni Masciarelli was convinced he could make world-class wine in his home of Abruzzo. He knew to do this, he was going to have to work differently than the others in the region and think differently about the land. His first revolutionary step was an extreme focus on the vineyard and the land. While others were squeezing as much yield per hectare as possible, Gianni dropped vine production so all of the plant’s energy could be concentrated on less fruit, thereby producing higher quality grapes. In addition to reduced yields, Gianni also farmed all the land organically, thus preserving the vineyards and the heritage of his winery for the future.
Then, with these extraordinary grapes, he made some vinification decisions that were definitely against the grain in Abruzzo: he introduced French oak, and in a smaller format no less. Instead of Slavonian botti, Gianni opted for French barriques to age his wine. In addition to his classic wines of Abruzzo -Montepulciano and Trebbiano - Gianni set out to pay homage to his grandfather, Giovaninno, by producing iconic wines from the vineyard directly behind the original winery, Villa Gemma, which his grandfather used to create his first vintage in 1930. He also created a line of more modern, polished wines labeled under his wife’s name, Marina Cvetic. During this time, he was also able to identify a vineyard that stood out among the rest and felt compelled to bottle a portion of its fruit as a single-vineyard bottling: Iskra. 
Over the years, Gianni acquired 60 separate plots of land totaling 300 acres, which is all still owned by the estate and remains organically farmed. Gianni passed away in 2008 but the estate lives on under the guidance of Marina and their daughter, Miriam. Since the winery’s inception in 1981, Masciarelli has been awarded 29 Tre Bicchieri awards, including an unprecedented 14 straight years of this distinction for the Villa Gemma Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
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