Winemaker has ‘little piece of Italy in Essex’

WHEN Frank Pisano moved to the UK 50 years ago he brought with him a little taste of his native Italy which has grown into an impressive home vineyard making 70 bottles of wine a year.

The 77-year-old moved from a little village close to Naples in Southern Italy in 1959 and set up home with his wife Iole in Chelmsford.

The pair could not bear to be without their daily glass of wine so when they returned to Italy for a visit Mr Pisano took a cutting of a vine from his family home which surprisingly flourished in the chillier climate of Essex.

Decades later Mr Pisano has added to his garden vineyard and produces an impressive 70 bottle of white wine a year.

The grandfather-of-five said: “When we went back to Italy on holiday I took a cutting from my dad’s vineyard and brought it back over. He grew a lot of grapes, all my family did.

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“I planted it at home and it grew, I was quite surprised. There were grapes on it so I started to make wine.”

Sadly, Mr Pisano’s original vine fell victim to an extension to his home but, bouyed by his success, the retired hospital porter took on an allotment and planted more vines around the front of his home which have grown to more than 25 feet long.

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The greenfingered grandfather has had to stop growing black grapes because they kept being eaten by the birds. Now he grows white grapes which he is careful to harvest in Autumn, just before the first frost arrive and destroy his tasty crop.

He said: “I must have thousands of grapes. I pick them all myself, normally the first week in October, then I put them through a mangle, I squash it up and leave it to ferment for two or three days and then I put it in a press and bottle it up.

“I don’t tread the grapes – they were doing that in Jesus’s time. Things have moved on since then.”

Mr Pisano imported his wine-making equipment from his homeland before the days when it was a common hobby in the UK and has turned his garage into the wine-making nerve centre. Each year he makes about 70 litres of wine, which has to mature for at least seven months before it is drinkable.

The father-of-four and his wife Iole, 74, have never sold a bottle but give it to his children and relatives to enjoy.

He said: “It is very, very dry because there is not much sugar in the grapes. My wife and I have a glass with our dinner, then the cork goes back on. We don’t drink and drink. I have never been drunk in my life.

“We have it like an English shandy, we mix it with lemonade to make it taste sweeter.

“I have a few bottles in the back of the garden which are from about 30 years ago. As long as they are kept properly they will last.

“I don’t send them to my family in Italy – they have their own wine, but they have tasted it when they come over and they like it. I have got my own little piece of Italy in Essex.”

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