We’re used to seeing funky wine taps in cool bars and restaurants now, as part of the decor. It’s modern and pretty useful… but have you ever seen a wine fountain?
Keeping in our unusual theme this week, we also recently discovered that fountains of wine actually exist! There are legitimately places in the world where you can grab a wine glass (or water bottle, if you’re desperate!) and fill it up - just as you would with a water fountain. Except it’s wine.
Aside from the obvious question (why aren’t we on a plane yet?) - there are a few more interesting facts to this juicy piece of wine tourism that are well worth knowing.
What is it, and where is it found?
The fountain is a project installed by the local Dora Sarchese winery in Abruzzo, in Italy. The fontana del vino (literally, ‘wine fountain’ in Italian) is in Villa Caldari, almost due east of Rome.
The fountain dispenses local red wine on tap - and it’s both free and open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. It operates with the literal push of a button - exactly as you’d expect a water fountain to work. The winery didn’t name the style of wine being tapped to the fountain, but it’s probably a blend of various grapes that they grow, including Montepulciano.
We’re not one to look a gift horse in the mouth… but, why?!
Although it’s open to anyone and everyone - including us Kiwis as potential tourists - it was primarily intended for the benefit of those those taking a religious pilgrimage-style trek called the Cammino di San Tommaso, or in English, The Way of St Thomas. Intertwining cultural, natural and spiritual highlights, the 313-kilometre journey connects the Italian town of Ortona, where the apostle's remains have been buried since 1258, with St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Despite the distance, thousands of people complete this walk every year. Over 300 kilometres on foot really does deserve a drink, we reckon.
It’s not the first one of its kind!
Interestingly - although probably not surprisingly - the Dora Sarchese public wine fountain is not the first one in Italy. As part of its annual carnival, Venice has previously had a public wine fountain installed at St Mark’s Square - although for a limited time, unlike the newest installation.
Italy's most famous (we should say infamous) wine fountain is the one in Marino. Wine flows from this fountain during their annual Grape Festival, however in 2008, a plumbing error meant that instead of wine coming out of the fountain, it instead came out of the taps of nearby local residents! The plumbers accidentally channelled it into some local homes.
Apparently the people living around the square who had wine coming out of their taps instead of water were very surprised, but thought it must’ve been some kind of present from the local council. Sadly, the error only lasted three minutes.
Historically, other cities in Europe have also had wine fountains - when Tudor England’s King Henry VIII met with France’s King Francis I in 1520, they had a public wine fountain for courtiers to enjoy, according to the UK’s Royal Collection Trust. We understand that one probably wasn’t available to curious Kiwi tourists, though.
So what about us Kiwis?
The idea of a wine fountain in Blenheim was mooted at a business meeting last week, as an idea to boost visitors to the Marlborough region, and promote it as a world-class wine destination.
As predicted though, the idea is full of problems when it comes to local implementation. Blenheim has difficulties approving and running with alfresco dining in its local restaurants, so in terms of liquor licensing, a wine fountain is very unfortunately entirely out of the question.
Guess we’ll just have to head to Europe, then.
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