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Above: Ostuni, Puglia’s famous ancient “white” city.

We just had to share this nugget, discovered recently while leafing through an autographed copy of the great twentieth-century British wine writer Cyril Ray’s 1979 book Ray on Wine (which we picked up in a rare book store on a trip to San Francisco).

Ray had worked in Puglia as a correspondent during the Second World War and he cites that time of his life as a formative experience in his knowledge of wine and winemaking.

Remembering his time with the British campaign in the “heel of Italy,” he wrote, “we picked grapes from roadside vineyards to quench our thirst as the Eighth Army clanked and rumbled its way northwards in a cloud of dust… It was still a country where wine was a part of life and where men grew wine as a matter of course…”

“It is salutary for an Englishman to live for a while in a wine-growing country, even — or perhaps particularly — a wine-growing country as simple as Apulia, where wine is neither a symbol by which snobs can demonstrate their wealth or their taste, nor a means of fuddlement, but as natural and as necessary as bread.”