A Mistake at a Winery Caused Red Wine to Spew from Faucets in a Small Italian Town

updated Mar 9, 2020
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Northern Italy has dominated the news for the past week due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the region, but a small town called Castelvetro briefly snuck in to headlines for a far funnier, more entertaining reason — unless, of course, you were trying to wash your hands. That’s because, for three hours, reports CNN, when certain homes in the town just south of Modena turned on their water, instead of the usual clear stream, it ran red — the color of the region’s traditional wine, Lambrusco.

The impact was small — just a few hours and only about 20 homes — but so unusual and entertaining, that news of the goof-up made news. The reality of what happened is pretty mundane, though: a winery set to bottle their Lambrusco Grasparossa had a faulty valve in their washing circuit. The pressure involved in the bottling line forced the wine to seep into the towns water pipes, and suddenly, the nearby showers and kitchen sinks dispensed wine.

The town is in Emilia-Romagna, a region known for its food and wine — this Lambrusco is nothing like the cheap red bubbles associated with that name in the U.S. Castelvetro, the Cantina Settecani winery, and the folks living in the affected homes all seem to be taking it in good humor, with a manager at the winery saying that it “was appreciated by many. Some clients in the areas called us to warn us about it, and to share they were bottling the wine!”

A deputy mayor of the town, which is now under Italy’s lockdown, hoped the silly mistake would turn out to be a boon for the region’s future when tourism could return, telling CNN, “At a time where we have very little to smile about, I’m glad we brought some levity to others. Hopefully someday they’ll remember us and will want to come visit us.”