I have often been asked how I became a winemaker... That’s a good question. Especially as I previously worked as a dental technician , which is pretty remote from the world of agriculture. Since moving to the Chianti in 1981 I have often asked myself the real reason for deciding to move from Florence. I started working on the land, first as a gardener in 1998, and then in the vines as a vignaiolo (as the old smallholders around here would say).
It was no easy move: it’s a big step from being a white collar worker to wearing overalls especially as regards the work environment.
Sadly agriculture is no longer dominated by smallholders, or contadini, who worked in harmony with the world around them. Industrialisation has also mechanised work in the fields, old methods and generations of accumulated wisdom have been set aside, and with it respect for the soil. The land is now often worked automatically with no sense of personal satisfaction . Wages, usually very low, are the worker’s chief concern and the relationship between the worker and the crop is no longer what it was… in fact it scarcely exists.
I can best describe myself as self taught, even though I have read the classical texts on agriculture and frequented a number of courses: on organic and biodynamic agriculture , and one on how to become a sommelier. These of course increased my understanding of plants and the land as well as enriching my knowledge of wine.
Although I am keen to learn and an energetic worker I am also mindful of having had the good fortune to have worked with some of the most remarkable producers and enologists, people who generously passed on their experience and expertise.
My keen desire to learn, questioning and seeking information and explanations instead of simply taking orders, put me in the privileged postion in 2003 of running Montemaggio, an estate of 6 hectares near Radda in Chianti. Despite the difficulties that year I managed to create “Torre di Montemaggio” (100% merlot), which is still the prized wine of their production .
I then went on to produce a number of wines: despite their often unusual character I was delighted by the acclaim they received in enogastronmic guides (see Enogea di Masnagetti).
As my responsibilities increased so did my enthusiasm for winemaking and in 2009 I was finally able to rent a vineyard of 2 hectares near Greve in Chianti. Poggio alle Corti had well equipped cellars and with the help of my partner and friends we were able to produce two excellent vintages.
Making wine is not a solitary business and I have been fortunate in those who have worked with me, providing the constant support and effort essential for the success of these wines.
We are now looking for a vineyard of some 3 to 4 hectares in order to realize a new project. One hectare will be devoted to white wine, one to dessert or passito wine, and our aim is to produce wine which embodies the experience and originality of the producer but more especially the quality of the terreno giving sustenance to the vines .
The grower has to liberate himself from established agricultural practice to treat Mother Earth with respect and devotion: organic and more importantly biodynamic methods require patience but reap extraordinary rewards. And, in the meantime, you can sample the rich pleasures of our 2009 and 2010 vintages…