A Wine Project of Italian Excellence

Near Velletri, just 25 miles from Rome in a central Italian region bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea, Ômina Romana established its roots at 800 feet, high up in the Alban Hills atop  the  caldera  remains  of a quiescent volcanic complex. While it’s been centuries since Monte Cavo grumbled and spewed forth, the  region’s  volcanic  soil caught the interest of Anton Börner, founder of this ambitious wine project born in 2007.

In this cradle of ancient Western civilization, Börner followed in the steps of the influential Etruscans and the powerful Romans. Thanks to the unique natural environment, and due to careful research, it is now known that over 2,500 years ago, the Etruscans cultivated their grapes  in this rich volcanic soil. Important to the story, it was the founder’s extraordinary in- tuition about this location, which in recent decades had been given little consideration for winemaking compared to more noble Italian enological regions.

How did a late-20th century winery founder determine that grapevines successfully grew here in the 7th century B.C. and could do so again? When Anton Börner decided to invest in this area’s untapped potential, he sought out studies by university researchers from his native Germany as well as from Florence and Parma to confirm his viewpoint.

He began by planting vines not exclusively native. Fruit was selected for its ability to thrive in this territory, with good potential to produce wines of the highest quality due to the particulars of volcanic soil, high elevation, cool and fresh sea breezes, mild winters, and sunny summers.

New vines were planted more closely together than before, causing the roots of competing vines to grow deep into the soil, making better use of the valuable minerals and moisture in the earth. The volcanic tuff-based soil promotes vine fertility and minerality and the growth of aromatic grapes, which in maturity, ensure a subtle aroma without any sour notes.

The presence of sandy soil  and  clay  soil due to different eruptions from the volcanoes is reflected in the vineyards where Chardonnay,  Viognier, Bellone, and the hybrid Manzoni  favor  sandy  soil  at 40% of production. The other 60% are international varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, and a particular variety of native Cesanese, which favor  the  clay.  Ômina  Romana  now produces its wines on 200 acres of vineyards.

The origin and the vision of Ômina Romana are expressed by its brand name. “Omina” means  “good    omens,”  from the Latin and “Romana”  pays  tribute  to  the land with reference to extraordinary Roman cultural development. Moreover, the Phoenician symbol represents the re-birth of the land from the ashes of a volcanic field to become a vineyard, giving light to a new path and purpose.

With the choice of this location for cultivating its wines, the winery is drawing on centuries of tradition and aiding a renaissance of wines produced in Lazio.





Photos Courtesy of Ômina Romana // Article By: Laurie Jo Miller Farr