It's been a few years since I've gone to Vinitaly, Italy's largest wine fair, in Verona. It's huge, chaotic, and difficult to navigate, with many regional Italian pavilions crammed with booths. Some stands look like Disneyland castles, with private tasting rooms, and there's plenty of rustic, wine-cask décor. There are also three concurrent wine fairs—Summa 10, VinNatur, and VinoVinoVino, the only one I'd never been to. As a closet wine nerd and trade fair junkie, I had to go. My friends Giusto Occhipinti and his niece Arianna (remember them from Sicily, part four?) would attend, and there were lots of wineries I didn't know.
VinoVinoVino, in Cerea, south of Verona, was conceived by the Vini Veri consortium and is billed as a "natural wine tasting". It includes wineries from two other associations, Renaissance des Appellations and A Triple, as well as independent producers who all share a similar philosophy. No chemicals, no GMOs, all natural yeasts, respect for the land and the grape. All stands at the fair are the same size. No castles or barrels.
I booked a room at Villa Bartolomea, close to the fair—most of the winemakers were staying there and the price was very reasonable, far less than rooms in Verona. I took a train to Rovigo and was met at the station by a van from the hotel. I went straight to the fair and bumped into Cesare Benelli, chef-owner of my favorite restaurant in Venice, Al Covo, who was tasting with his friend Luca Fullin, from the Venetian Hotel Wildner's restaurant. They took me around.