La Villana, a Love Story

Posted on Posted in From the Road, Inspiration, Producer Profiles

When Joy Kull decided leave for Rome to study, she was in love. When she decided to work in a small winery near lake Bolsena in Lazio she fell in love. She fell in love again when she met her future husband while working at there. So, it isn’t surprising that her new winery is all about love. La Villana is all about the labor of love, and it shows. Gradoli sits on the shores of Europe’s largest volcanic lake, Bolsena. This makes for a great place to grow wine grapes, great soil, steep slopes, winds, etc. In fact, visiting Joy is about being immersed in the natural world, surrounded by animals, the couple always has strays, orphans, and abandoned animals in their charge, another good reason for the choice of names.

La Villana’s labels reflect her shepherd husband’s influence … and Joy!

The name she chose is a reference to the antagonistic relationship between the local shepherds and farmers. Farmers used to call shepherds “Villano”, Joy chose the female version of the word the name is also perfect since her husband is himself a fourth-generation shepherd. La Villana comprises almost 3 hectares in small parcels of old-vines, white and red grapes, some that were on the verge of being abandoned. She has also planted another near-hectare this year around her house.

Joy’s wines are unapologetically natural, she eschews any additives in wine. They are also authentically delicious, rich and vinous, even playful, with long finishes. All the wines are touched by hand, grapes are foot stomped, and are made without any additives. Joy implements some skin maceration, and gentle (Semi-carbonic) ferments, to make wines which are meant to be enjoyed young.  Her cellar is the size of a garage, she’s quickly outgrowing her space. And for being so new at winemaking, she employs an intuitive manner to her craft, not being afraid to adapt to her constraints and each vintage. She could not afford a de-stemmer, so she fashioned a manual one from wide-screen mesh built around a wood frame. And in this challenging year, 2017, she has changed some ferment techniques to reflect the quality of it that she harvested, even deciding to make a Pet-Nat, so stay tuned!

How can one achieve so much at the age of only 29? Follow your dreams, add tons of hard work, a little luck, and love what you do every day. La Villana is a shining example of what can happen.

A small winery has it’s advantages when everything is done by hand – it’s all just steps away.