Vignamaggio Vineyards is steeped with fascinating history! For starters, Monna Lisa was born in Vignamaggio, (a tiny town in northern Chianti) in the 14th century. Leonardo da Vinci (Leonardo from Vinci) lived a few miles away. When Leonardo painted the aristocratic daughter of Gheradini, the magnificent setting of the Vignamaggio was painted in the background.
I visited Vignamaggio Vineyards on my last day in Tuscany ~ the spring weather was anything but cooperative, rainy and blustery.
Vignamaggio (translates to May Vines), is nestled in the hills between Greve and Lamole, about 45 minutes from Firenze. Idyllic winding roads up to the estate are flanked by olive trees and hardwoods. The smell of burning wood was in the air.
After trekking up the long driveway lined with hardwood trees to the top of the hill, I was warmly greeted by the charming Sandro Checcucci, my personal wine guide and host at Vignamaggio Vineyards. The tasting room was warm and inviting.
Wine tasting was complimentary, of course, as most wine tastings are in Chianti. Vignamaggio is considered a large-scale wine production vineyard, with over 128 acres of vines. Sangiovese is the primary wine varietal interspersed with 40-year-old Cabernet Franc vines, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Olive oil production is a key business also, with several varietals of olives, all available for tasting and purchase.
Of particular note was the 2007 and 2009 Castello di Monna Lisa Chianti Classico Riserva ~ a full-bodied, fairly tannic, intense deep ruby-red blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot. Both wines received 90+ points from wine enthusiast Robert Parker. Vignamaggio’s 2010 Gheradino Chianti Classico also proved worthy and was well-balanced with hints of raspberries and blackberries.
Sandro led me through the 15th century wine cellars on a private tour with fascinating tales of the Gheradini family. As was common in the early 1400’s, the Gheradini’s lost their farm land holdings during an invasion of the Chianti countryside. Family members then scattered around the globe, some settling in Ireland, where the family name was changed to Fitzpatrick. Interestingly enough, the notorious Fitzpatrick/Kennedy family traces its ancestry back to Monna Lisa Gheradini’s lineage.
It was a delightful way to spend a rainy afternoon in the countryside! Having amassed a small collection of Chianti wines during my travels, I was unsure how to ship it back the states. Sandro kindly arranged to ship my wines for me for a nominal fee.
Next time I’m in Chianti, I will definitely stay at the Vignamaggio Wine Resort. The resort features suites in the 14th century villa, two swimming pools, tennis courts, wine cellar and more. I highly recommend Vignamaggio for a true italian country vacation. www.vignamaggio.com