Thanks to its mountainous topography and its people’s firm commitment to local tradition, Liguria has remained relatively immune to the globalization that has seen international wine styles pervade in regions like Tuscany and the Veneto. The Ruffino family, who has grown grapes on the sea-facing slopes above the resort town of Varigotti for half a millennium, epitomizes Liguria’s wealth of viticultural treasures. In addition to Vermentino, Pigato, and Rossese—widespread throughout the region—they continue to grow heirloom grapes such as Lumassina and Barbarossa, and their vineyards are home to some of the last remaining plantings of Mataòssu and Crovino.
What’s more, the Ruffinos are reintroducing experimental plots of Vermentino Nero and Rossese Bianco, so expect exciting novelties to come from these sunbaked Mediterranean hillsides. With a dozen children running around the winery—the oldest of whom are already fully implicated in the family business—we have no doubt Liguria’s fascinating traditions will persist for many more years.