Moreno studied agriculture and winemaking at Udine, northern Italy, before taking over his grandfather’s Istrian vineyards; he is possibly the family’s sixth generation of winemakers having traced his winemaking roots to 17th century ancestors in the coastal town of Isola, now across the border in Slovenia. With the vineyards predominantly around Buje, northern Istria, Degrassi says that four or five generations ago every family was producing wine to a certain extent, so much so that the Buje town ‘logo’ incorporated a wine barrel!
After his degree Moreno began running a fashionable restaurant in Bassania and his decision to create fine wines came about from a desire to produce wine of a high enough quality to match his menu.
Degrassi’s malvasija was the first wine with an IQ certificate (2005), and he counts the grand gold medal for his 1997 malvasija as one of his greatest achievements, but this medal input has increased annually and in 2010 he won a total of 20 medals nationally.
Moreno’s 25 hectares produce up to 130,000 bottles annually but what is extraordinary about this output is the diverse number of wines he produces from a multitude of grape varieties:- Rosé (one from teran and merlot, the other from pinot noir); Red (cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, refošk, teran, pinot noir and petit verdot, cuvée rouge contarini and gran cuvée terre bianche); White (malvasija, chardonnay, viognier, sauvignon blanc and muškat).
A trip to the unusual Degrassi tasting rooms, complete with Roman amphorae, separate bar and huge open fire, can take several hours as you are led competently through this long list by Alison and Moreno; we suggest you don’t make any other appointments for the rest of the day!
With a consistently high standard of quality wines, Moreno proves that an Istrian winemaker does not have to work only with indigenous grape varieties but in the hands of the right producer a grape grown on Istrian soil can act and behave like any decent western European wine.
Moreno still maintains his favourite wine is the one that he has not yet created.