Four Italian wine brands run by women and their flagship products – COOL HUNTING®
Sisters Albiera, Allegra and Allessia Antinori, with their father Marchese Piero Antinori, in their family Antinori Chianti Classico Winery, Chianti Classico region, Tuscany, Italy
Whether it’s the revolutionary 26th generation of a family business or a forward-looking mother-daughter duo, female winegrowers are only a fraction of the Italian wine industry. One of the most prestigious wine-growing nations in the world, Italy’s beautiful vineyards and historic cellars produce a much loved liquid. That said, it is also a destination where natural and organic wines are starting to emerge. While the following four institutions offer some (or all) of that, they also assert what the world of wine looks like under female leadership: success.
Castello di Volpaia and Prelius Maremma Toscana
Mother-daughter duo Giovanna Stianti and Federica Mascheroni Stianti run their two family estates with power and enthusiasm. There is a rich history behind Volpaia Castle, a winery and a village dating from 1172 (one of the best-preserved 12th century fortified villages in Italy) which lies on the Florence-Siena border. The interiors of its old houses, underground passages and disused churches have been discreetly transformed into wine cellars connected by an underground “wine channel”. Giovanna was passed on to Volpaia Castle by her father as a wedding gift. When she married her husband, Carlo Mascheroni, he took on the surname Stianti to continue. Giovanna has paved the way for many women in the industry, and that lineage and the spectacular story behind each bottle is part of what makes her so valuable.
Daughter Frederica did not always imagine herself going into the family business. At 19, she pursued a career in art restoration and obtained a diploma in technical art restoration as well as a master’s degree in restoration and conservation of artistic heritage. When she moved to Florence for her conservatory of painting, she was able to help her mother with the Volpaia estate, due to its proximity. 12 years ago, Frederica joined full time to oversee the expansion of the family.
Purchased by the family in 2007, Prelius Maremma Tuscany is a coastal wine estate accompanied by a newly built estate that looks out over the vineyards and its surrounding cork, olive and orange trees. It sits on the hilly terrain of Tuscany’s Maremma region, above an ancient coastal lake named Prelius. The vineyard of the same name, cultivated organically, is the first business outside the territory of Chianti Classico for the Stianti Mascheroni family. While Volpaia remains her mother’s territory, the two come together to run the family business together, often clashing but finding solid common ground rooted in their passion for making wine with integrity.
As a starting point for the family portfolio, the Castle of Volpaia Chianti Classico 2017 is a beautiful bottle to open for a special dinner or a regular evening. The medium-bodied red wine, made from 100% Sangiovese grapes, features notes of blackberry, violet and new leather. At the same time, flavors of ripe plum, nutmeg and licorice linger on the tongue along with round tannins that create a polished finish.
Tenuta Sette Cieli
Nestled between Bolgheri and Castagneto Carducci, in the heart of Tuscany and 400 meters above sea level, Tenuta Sette Cieli is among the clouds (it is aptly named “the domain of the seven heavens”). Committed to respecting nature and cultivating vines with the purest expression of the terroir, while employing sustainable and organic practices, Elena Pozzolini, 36, of Tuscan origin, is another revolutionary winemaker and CEO.
Pozzolini graduated from the University of Pisa with a degree in viticulture and oenology. By combining these two disciplines, she has developed an intuitive winemaking process – drawn from her own extensive studies of vineyard diseases – that interweaves her routine with the process of growing grapes. She constantly takes care of the vines and monitors their reaction to environmental changes.
She tells of an exceptionally wet season when the grapes suffered from waterlogging. His solution was to plant barley between the rows to absorb excess moisture. Due to Pozzolini’s all-natural style of winemaking, the vines demand a creative spirit to meet their specific needs. Due to increased seasonal changes due to climate change, the winery has even altered its pruning cycle for the vines. They do not use commercial pesticides and do not allow any spraying. Integrated pest control promotes harmony and balance in vines that fight against wild boars and birds. In addition, all operations in the vineyards are done by hand. Under his leadership, she has formed an all-female team of workers who are responsible for their wines. It was to tackle the obstacles in her own early days, where she had to work internationally in California, Argentina and Australia. She started her career in Argentina because of the glass ceiling preventing her from finding a job in Italy.
The Tenuta Sette Cieli Indaco 2014 embodies the winemaking of Elena Pozzolini. Composed of Malbec, Cabernet and Merlot grapes, this wine coats the tongue with notes of cassis, blueberry and mint, while the chewy tannins create a velvety finish that prompts a second, third and even a fourth glass.
The 26th generation of Antinori family entered the world of wine with an account. Their family had been engaged in the art of winemaking for over six centuries, since 1385 when Giovanni di Piero Antinori became a member of the âArte Fiorentina dei Vinattieriâ, the guild of Florentine winegrowers. Throughout its history, the Antinoris have run their business directly, making innovative and sometimes daring decisions. They are also one of the largest wine companies in Italy, covering over 11 estates and vineyards. Their innovations have played a big role in âSuper TuscanâRevolution of the 1970s. Now, three sisters, Albiera, Allegra and Alessia, lead the empire. Although Albiera carries the title of president, she is the first to clarify that the tasks are divided between the three Antinori sisters, each finding a niche to pursue their individual passions.
Alessia supervises the Antinori art project, where she commissions contemporary artists, including Sam Falls and Nicholas Party, to create site-specific works in conversation with the domains. Albiera’s passion for architecture prompted her to work closely together on the construction and opening of their new Cave, museum and headquarters of Chianti Classico, which is open to the public. Allegra looks after their catering businesses including Cantinetta Antinori in Florence (which has a Pop-up in New York City, with a prix fixe three-course menu and food and wine pairing for $ 95, February 25-28, at Tutto il Giorno Tribeca).
From the brand’s illustrious wine list, the rich Walked Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 2016 titillates. Aromas of cranberry, pomegranate and oak spice give way to a sophisticated palate of black cherry, plum, vanilla, star anise and a hint of coconut.
Hero image of the Antinori sisters courtesy of Marchesi Antinori