VikeVike Winery was born from the passion of Winemaker Simone Sedilesu. His family has a multigenerational history of winemaking in the ancient Sardinian territory of Mamoiada. Simone grew up amongst the vines along with his brothers and cousins. He first learned winemaking from his grandfather Giuseppe Sedilesu and later from his father who took over the family-owned winery.
Simone’s winemaking philosophy is deeply rooted in the belief that great wines are made in the vineyard. He emphasizes minimal intervention winemaking techniques working with Cannonau and Granazza, two varieties indigenous to Mamoiada.
VikeVike is located adjacent to his family’s Giuseppe Sedilesu Winery in the village of Mamoiada. Simone repurposed a three-story home into a cellar, lab, bottling facility, and more. If you ever find yourself in Mamoiada, give Simone a call and he’ll warmly welcome you for a tasting.
I interviewed Simone to get an inside look at what it’s like to be a winemaker for this Wine Folly article. Since I wasn’t able to include all of the insights from each winemaker I interviewed in the article, I wanted to share the full interview with you here.
You have the unique experience of starting your own winery. Can you describe the process of how you got started ?
The idea of opening my own cellar began in May 2015, a year after I graduated in oenology in Oristano. I was returning from South Africa, where I had just finished harvest. Once back in Mamoiada, I learned that 2.5 hectares of vineyards were available for rent, along with a cellar that already had the necessary ASL documentation. I spoke with my family and with the encouragement of my father I decided to throw myself into this adventure that would change my life forever.
My company, VikeVike Winery, was born in September 2015, just before the harvest. The first year, a little out of fear and a little out of ignorance, I worked with only 25 hl of wine to produce around 3000 bottles.
The name VikeVike, which in the dialect of my village means “look look,” identifies my cellar as 100% Mamoiada because VikeVike is a typical saying we use in every day language.
When I started thinking about packaging, I immediately thought of the Burgundian bottle that I like for its shape and elegance. For the label I wanted a super classic, simple and direct style. So, I thought about our culture’s wine tradition. I represented this as a sapling with its roots in the nuraghe, which is the Sardinian symbol for tradition and excellence made from granite blocks. Our land is also made of granite, decomposed granite, a poor land that plants must adapt to.
VikeVike Winery works with around 300 quintals of our own grapes. I purchase additional grapes in Mamoiada from well-known growers who also cultivate organically. In 2019, VikeVike produced around 30,000 bottles. Cannonau accounts for 95% of the winery’s production with Granazza claiming the other 5%.
Can you share some insights into what it’s like working under the Italian D.O.C. and D.O.C.G regulations? And how are these regulations implemented?
Mamoiada is a town that is suited for the production of Cannonau, it has always been so. Our vineyards range from 550 to 900 meters above sea level, hillside viticulture. This is a very unique territory in Sardinia.
Mamoiada does not have its own specific denomination. In Sardinia, those who make Cannonau must respect a single production specification whether you are facing the sea or in the middle of the mountains. Unfortunately, the only denomination for Cannonau is the Cannonau di Sardegna D.O.C., as if all Sardinian Cannnonau is the same!!
The designation is a bit crazy, as it allows for production of 110 quintals per hectare (a production size that is unthinkable by us). Additionally, this D.O.C. allows you to use 15% of other varieties that completely distort the Cannonau in purity. For the record, in Mamoiada we only vinify 100% Cannonau and nothing else.
What are your considerations when making decisions during the winemaking process?
As far as winemaking is concerned, I follow the rules of tradition. I only ferment with indigenous yeasts (spontaneous fermentation), use minimal sulfur, and a lot of elbow grease.
Winemaking aside, I have the good fortune to work the vineyards myself. In this way, I can make sure that only the best grapes arrive in the cellar. Over the years I have learned that 80% of the work is done in the vineyard. Winemaking is a crowning achievement of a whole year’s work.
Although I have no rules to follow because the company is mine, every year I am faced with new winemaking choices. My goal is to make elegant, fresh wines that you want to drink and don’t get tired of. All my choices revolve around these aspects.
My wines are the offspring of the vineyards. The young vineyard (15 years old) produces the 100% easy-to-drink “base” Cannonau, which can be consumed young and also ages very well thanks to its high acidity.
The old vines (100 years old) are used to produce my reserve. This wine gives the best of itself after three or four years and has more complexity than the younger one.
Can you provide insights into your wine sales process? For example, how much is sold in Italy and how much is exported? How do you find importers?
As a small and relatively young winery, you won’t find many VikeVike wines in the Italian market. We are slowly starting to be recognized by important markets. The importers I have found were through contacts I made at wine fairs and expos over the years, such as Vin Italy. For now, I export mainly to Northern Europe, where Mamoiada wines are very popular. The exit price of my wine is around 11 Euros for the base Cannonau and 18 Euros for the reserve. These are medium-high prices for Sardinia, but are still relatively low for the real value the wine has.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in the winemaking process and how did you overcome it?
The most difficult grapes to vinify are the grapes of the old vineyards. The low yields and high sugar concentrations make the fermentations slow and difficult. You really need to be attentive to avoid stopping the fermentation completely.