"Oh, look how cute they are! They look like Hobbit's houses!" That's what I thought when, along the hairpin turns of the highway 169, we arrived at Pietragalla and saw some little buildings parading in front of us that made us think about the Shire come out from Tolkien's pen. "Dad, stop!" It was unthinkable to leave that place without discovering what they were.
Got out of the car, we ventured among the little houses to discover at the end that they were something completely different. And that's how we knew about the existence of wineries.
It's about a type of rural architecture where people crushed grapes and left the must fermenting. It seems that Pietragalla is well known for these hypogeums and just here there are about 200 of them.
Hanging around the wineries is a bit like going around in a little maze, where one can reconnect with the inner child that everyone has and can let him/her surprise by everything.
The door of some of them is open, so you can see how they are inside. It's entirely dug in the rock and made up of adjoining tanks organized on different levels. There can be two or four tanks (then I found out that in two-tanked wineries they produced white wine and red wine was produced in those with four tanks). This system ensure that in the upper tank grapes were pressed with naked feet and the must fell in the tank underneath. After a period of 15/20 days of fermentation, wine was decanted in wooden barrels and stored in caves in the historical centre of the little town. Over the access door of the winery there's an opening as well: it was necessary as way out for carbon dioxide developed during the pressing of grapes and fermentation. In some structures there was even a fireplace used to warm the must.