The Vatican Launches Into Viticulture

Source: FSSPX News

Barberini Gardens in Castel Gandolfo

Two hectares of vines were planted in the gardens of Castel Gandolfo, the pontifical villa. The Vatican is expected to produce and market its own wine beginning in 2026, and make it available to its employees and the millions of visitors who pass the Leonine Wall each year.

The residents of the smallest state in the world by area consume on average 74 liters of wine per person per year, almost twice as much as in France and Italy.

The statistics are sometimes misleading. This high consumption is mainly explained by the numerous Masses celebrated throughout the year by members of the Curia, but also within the framework of pilgrimages, as well as by tourist attendance at restaurants managed by the Vatican.

In order to avoid importing its wine from abroad – from Italy in this case – the micro-state has decided to produce its own wine. It will come from vineyards planted in the papal residence of Castel Gandolfo, a extraterritorial possession located in the middle of the hills of Albano, not far from Rome.

Riccardo Cotarella, the president of the Italian Association of Winegrowers and Wine Technicians who is leading the project, chose to make the beverage from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes: “The vineyard consists of two hectares and is located inside the papal summer residence, close to the Papal Gardens of Castel Gandolfo.”

“Different varieties of grapes have been planted, but Cabernet Sauvignon predominates,” explains the project manager, who focuses on “a grape of easy adaptation and of high winemaking quality.”

The Castel Gandolfo terroir where the vineyard is planted “is a splendid area,” Riccardo Cotarella estimates. The region's wines, marketed under the Castelli Romani appellation, have been famous since ancient Rome. Pliny the Elder himself celebrated them in his writings.

“Although it is an area dedicated to white wines, I wanted to base myself on my experience with the Colle Picchioni wine cellar, of Paola di Maruo, with which I explored the potential of this grape variety,” specified the master of the vineyard. “The wine will be aged in oak barrels and will be bottled in 2026.”

It will be sold exclusively in the Vatican, tax-free, with a clearly recognizable label containing the arms of the Holy See. Pope Francis even made an allusion to it at the beginning of 2024:

“Dear friends, wine, earth, agriculture, and business activity are gifts of God, but let us not forget that the Creator has entrusted them to our sensibility and our honesty, so that we make of them, as Scripture says, a true source of joy for man’s heart and that of all men, not only for those who have more possibilities.”