The vintners knife

June 18, 2007

Some years ago my wife surprised me with the most marvellous birthday gift: a vintners knife which she had ordered from Italy. She kept all the transactions secret from me. I only notices some e-mail going back and forth from our PC in Jakarta to Italy in Italian. But I did not look at them thinking it must be old acquaintances from the good old days when we were living in Rome. I was really chuffed. It is a traditional Italian knife used by vintners even for pruning of vines which I carry with me every day when on the farm.

The producers are two Italian brothers, Luigi and Enrico Consigli who opened their forge about 50 years ago in Scarperia a small town in Tuscany. The settlement traces its roots back to 1306 when it was created at the foot of the Giogo Pass linking Florence to Bologna. The city of Florence soon established a castle (Castel San Barnaba) their in order to control the most important road crossing Italy. “Scarpa” means “shoe” in Italian and “ria” (in Tuscan) means “steep”, the two words were combined and so the name Scarperia was born. The town has since the 1980s a very interesting “cutting irons” museum and till today, it is a world renown centre for the ancient art of knife making.

Back to the two Consigli brothers. Today, Luigi is retired and the family business is carried on by Enrico and his children Elena and Pietro. It is a typical Italian business venture moulding tradition. Modern tecyhnique with elegance and refinement. The company does not only produce traditional workmen’s knives (for vintners, fishermen, shepherds, olive growers, etc.) but also kitchen cutlery. The family business website (www.conaz.com) is also in English. It introduces the visitor to the history of the region, the company, the trade (how a knife is made) and provides a wonderful catalogue with various regional, and historic knives as well as table and kitchen cutlery.

Below, a photo of my traditional “vintners knife”. A couple of years ago it was still produced in different sizes. When I screened the catalogue on the website, however, I could not find it any more. It must be out of production. The more I am happy to own such a treasure which is of great help in my little vineyard at Two Hills near Glenburn in the New World, far away from Italy and its traditions. But when I cut away at my vines, Italy is on my mind, and the forge of the Consigli brothers who made all this pleasure possible. While browsing the catalogue I had already singled out some very elegant models for future birthdays.

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My vintners knife, Consigli brothers, Scarperia