A Mano

A•Mano is all about Puglia and ironically, neither of its owners is native to the region: Mark Shannon is a graduate of the University of California at Davis, a former “flying winemaker” who settled down in Puglia to make his own wine; Elvezia Sbalchiero is a marketing pro from Italy’s opposite extreme, cool northern Friuli.

They met in 1997, while both were consulting for a Sicilian winery. So successful was their professional encounter that in August 1998, Mark asked Elvie to follow him on a tour of what is locally known as Primitivo’s “golden triangle,” an area between Torricella, Sava, and Manduria where this native grape particularly thrives. So, during what was supposed to be a short vacation, Mark and Elvie were utterly blown away by this expanse of old, bush-trained vines south of Taranto. They finally felt at home, and not only stayed, but opened a winery of their very own that very same year. In Mark’s words: “Puglia is so easy to fall in love with: it has a history of grape-growing in harmony with nature; everything necessary for top-quality wines. I have not seen another region of the world where the quality potential is so high.”

Mark and Elvie’s winery is ideally located within the “golden triangle” and boasts vines that are 70-100 years old. They decided to call it A•Mano, which is Italian for “handmade.” More than a name, it’s their manifesto: the duo passionately cares for every single detail starting in the vineyard and going all the way to the bottle. The excellent alluvial soil is beautiful even to look at: it is deep red in color and ideal for structured, extract-packed grapes. The vines are hand-cultivated and low-yielding, still head-trained as they were by the ancient Phoenicians. Mark has achieved a winning combination of California’s technology (jacketed rotary fermenters, heat exchangers, stainless steel equipment on a state-of-the-art scale etc.) and Puglia’s tradition and terroir. With Elvie’s strength, determination, and logistical intelligence, and the wines’ amazing value, you have the making of some of the best Puglia has to offer.

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