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Swapping bars for vines


Lamberto Frescobaldi, 30th generation of the Marchesi de'Frescobaldi wine dynasty, has recently revealed the humanitarian behind the businessman. For the better part of the Summer, Frescobaldi has attending a mid-security jail on the remote Italian island of Gorgona, helping the detainees learn how to make wine. Part of a wider plan, this program on the island sees residents grow vegetables, create cheeses and now, make wine, equipping them with the necessary skills to be reintroduced into the labor force once their sentence is complete.

Gorgona lies 37km off the west coast of Italy, near the port of Livorno, with a one hectare vineyard ideally situated to face the morning sun and planted in rich soil. Representatives from the Frescobaldi community assist in the care and picking of the vines, which are harvested at the same time each year. In support of this project to rehabilitate hardened criminals through agriculture, the Frescobaldi family pay a wage to the convict workers and then sell the wine.

Asked what he felt when he took his first sip of the wine, Frescobaldi replied: "It brought a tear to my eye. It made me reflect on all the people on this island that don't have the chance I have to come and go."

The island has been a penal colony since 1869, and has just produced 2,700 bottles of a crisp white wine called Gorgona with the help of the 700-year-old Italian wine dynasty. The wine has been purchased by a Michelin three-star restaurant in Florence, among others.