the bride and the groom

pressing the grapes with feet

Photo courtesy of Lugarotti Museum of Vine

Only three pages in google and two of those in Italian.  Impossible! Arbustum gallium (in Latin), Vite maritata (in Italian) and Maple-Grapevine-Wheat Guild (in permaculture lingo), is the lost art of marrying grape vines to trees. Historians trace this method back to the Etruscans. This ancient technique, from around 700 BC, can be seen in the Umbrian landscape  On the property of Arte Studio Ginestrelle there are still one or two trees, where the remains of  Vite maritata once existed.  In Italian Vite maritata, literally means the married grapevine.

festoned trees

Photo courtesy of Lugarotti Museum of Wine – grape vines tied together with jute between the trees

The tree is the “groom” and the grapevine, which uses the support of the tree is the “bride.”  I visited the Lugarotti Museum of Wine in Torigano.  In these vintage photographs, it is possible to see the beauty of Vite maritata.

tree with wine 1

The support tree was usually a maple or elm.  Choosing these particular trees had a rationale:  the maple is a long lived tree providing shade during a hot summer, as well as frost protection during the winter.  The maple can also be hard pruned providing sun for vines.  In addition, research has shown the maple tree prevents a certain mite from attacking the grapevine.

tree with vines 2

There is one small vestige of Vite maritata at Arte Studio Ginestrelle.  Marina Merli, Director of Arte Studio Ginestrelle sent me a link to an Italian documentary about Vite maritata that features the farmer up the road.

vmaritata 1 vita m2
ith historian Prof. Ivo Picchiarelli  and Nazzareno and Mevia (the farmers up the road)

Arte Studio Ginestrelle Vite maritata

Arte Studio Ginestrelle Vite maritata

This technique is extremely rare to see today.  In Umbria, this method stopped being used in 1960’s.  The reason:  the grapes must be harvested by hand.  It’s another lost art.





advantages – frost protection, moderates high temperatures

maples maintained a small population of mites, spider-like bugs that would eat the disease while it very small – using grapes on plastic and still, no mites to eat the disease – destroyed the grapes.


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