With some of the Calcarius wines back in stock, we’re giving a refresher of Valentina and her delicious natural wines. Whether you’ve tasted them or not, these Puglian bottles make a striking first impression - and not just because many are a 1-litre format.
Valentina Passalacqua’s branding for these bottles makes a serious mark, and the bottles are impossible to miss. With their periodic table-inspired labels and the vivid colours through the clear glass bottles, we were intrigued before we ever opened one. Luckily, the product backs up the look. All of the Calcarius series (she has two other ranges with different looks and emphases) is juicy, fresh and bold. Perfect biodynamic summertime bottles, and ideal for sharing in the sun.
It hasn’t been all sunshine and daisies for Valentina though: she was the subject of quite a bit of drama. Her father was arrested in 2020 for exploiting migrant workers in his produce business, and subsequently, a wine magazine publisher accused Valentina of being complicit in this practice. Several of her importers and partners dropped her, and several media outlets published articles about the arrest and accusation, all without much evidence for her involvement in her father’s (very separate) business.
After several third-party importers, organisations and the Italian government audited her business, they confirmed Valentina’s innocence of any involvement with her father’s corrupt labour practices. In late 2020, the Quality Agricultural Labor Network accepted her winery as a member: a certification programme that helps fight illegal and exploitative labour practices in Italy’s agricultural sector, as well as certify which businesses are in good legal standing with their labour practice.
Despite this huge hit, Valentina turned this into an opportunity to double down on labour transparency and support for her workers, by integrating a Labor Union representative and creating programmes for team member housing, transportation and training opportunities for those who may not otherwise have access to such resources.