Fattoria di Montemaggio has existed as a winery since 1975 and was founded by an Italian publicist. In fact, early labels of the winery (in the 80s) were all depicting the Florence football team flags in support of Italian football. It was later sold to German owners in the 90s, and then to an English owner in early 2000.
On old maps we were able to find in the city hall of Radda in Chianti we found that Montemaggio has existed since the 15th century when its main villa was used to serve as a lookout tower. As you probably have heard, during those times there was no Italy, but the city of Florence (Kingdom of Florence ) and the city of Siena (Kingdom of Siena) and they were always in battle. So Montemaggio served as a lookout tower, as it is situated on the border between both cities.
Everything we have around us matters, because we are a part of it as well. The idea to do as little damage as possible and pass on to future generations as much heritage as possible always resonated with us and therefore resonates with everything we do here in Montemaggio.
The name Montemaggio derives from “Monte Maggiore” (Big Mountain), which indicates its elevated position - 600m above sea level - which is a borderline for the production of Sangiovese grapes. Altitude has been a very important part of the quality of our wines because we always have this distinct drop in temperature between day and night, and this has an outstanding effect on the aromas of the future wines and allows the wines to be astonishingly fresh. Especially now when global warming is a real threat to winemaking all around the world, being in an elevated position offers enormous benefits to the quality of the wine, the quantity of alcohol in each wine, and the expression of the soil.
The Sangiovese and Chardonnay vines have been planted with a very high density per hectare (6,250 plants/hectare in some vineyards). We then produce a lower quantity of grapes per hectare (35-40 Ql/hectare - depending on the wine - which is a very low yield), by regulating it through pruning and selection techniques. Montemaggio follows the concept of a very high-quality “Terroir” wine. We have the chance to supervise the quality of wine in every bottle and make sure that our customers get a very special product. To create a quality wine, we have to limit the quantity of grapes produced by each vine every year, this way we are able to make sure that everything will be concentrated in only 4-5 bunches per plant and not 10 or 20. These characteristics, in addition to the exposure, the slopes, the micro-climate, the soil, and the hard and accurate and passionate work, guarantee the production of excellent and authentic Tuscan wines.
We are very much in the middle of the forest, isolated from the busy city life. You will not believe how many animals we have in the forests, often jumping over and digging under the fence of the farm - we see wild birds, deer, porcupines, sometimes we hear wolves howling far away in the forests.
The vineyards are fenced off, and take up an area of 8,5-9 Ha in total. Otherwise, it would be a feast for all the animals and birds from the forest to enjoy the grapes whenever we are about to harvest. The vineyards have a central position in the farm with exposure to the southwest of remarkable importance. The soil here is rich in galestro, sandstone, and alberese. What we call in italy “Gallestro” is truly incredible for the cultivation of grapes because it allows them to grow very long roots in search of water and minerals, making them “suffer”, as we like to say in agriculture. The more they “suffer” the stronger they become, and the better they produce high-quality wines.
In Chianti we are not allowed to irrigate vines, therefore rainfall is all we rely on. When we have vineyards we have to make sure that we have good drainage in order to make sure that water passes through very well during the heavy rains and we either collect it in a small natural lake we have in Montemaggio or we divert it to the forest, outside of the vineyards. Our slopes are very inclined, and we have to make sure that water passes through the ground, part of it gets absorbed but then the rest passes through to avoid avalanches and soil erosion.
We are avid supporters of organic and biodynamic agriculture. We are fully organic certified, which actually requires 2 certifications: organic grapes and organic wine. One can produce organic grapes but not produce organic wines for example. So it is important to have both to be able to really do a great job.
Organic agriculture in winemaking - what does it mean? It means we do not use any chemicals that damage the immune system of the vine (or any plant for that matter), that enters and alters their composition. We are allowed to use sulfur and copper. These 2 elements do not enter into the system of the vines but treat the disease on the surface (usually the disease is rot due to too much humidity). Further, we use sulfur as a conservative to the wine, we use a very small amount in order to give a wine a chance to last since we age our wines for such a long time, and also to be able to transport it and ship all around the world for our customers.
Organic agriculture also means that we do not alter nature in order to fight one bug or the other by spraying poisonous chemicals on it. Instead we create mini wars guiding them away from our grapes and into nature.
We also plant cover crops throughout the entire farm - this is a very common practice in organic and biodynamic agriculture. It involves planting different plants - like mustard, and trefoil, barley, beans, etc to carry out different functions and either enrich the soil with various minerals (nitrogen, phosphorus and others) or on the other hand take away something - for example water from the lower parts of the rows, where it tends to concentrate. Flowers from such plants attract an incredible amount of pollinators like bees, bumblebees, beneficial butterflies, and various other insects that are so important to preserve our ecosystem, flora and fauna. Even though grapes are mostly pollinated by wind, there is a small part that pollinators also are involved in, and it would have been impossible to imagine our world without them. They form a crucial part of our planet’s ecosystem and in the survival of an astonishing amount of crops.
Chianti Classico territory is also very unique because even though it is a small region, it is very diverse. There are many producers of Chianti Classico, and I'm proud to say that Tuscany is the region with the most organic farms throughout Italy. Our territory is very diverse, hence the wines are also very different from one another.
Montemaggio is a team effort, but mainly it's myself and my agronomist Ilaria. We are very different but I think this is what probably allows Montemaggio to work and function so well. She is more grounded and I'm more digitally present, but we share a passion for wine, nature and genuinely good products.
As well as Ilaria, we have a great team in Montemaggio. Montemaggio is small so a lot of responsibilities of different people overlap greatly, specifically when we are facing some hardship like sudden drought or maybe when vegetation grows greatly and we need an extra pair of hands in the vineyards. And everyone is very happy to help with whatever needed. It took us a long time to form the team, but now I can finally say that everyone works together with great passion, responsibility, and care.
My father, Edoardo, Said, Haseeba (Said’s wife), Luciano, Edzgon, Susanna, Francesco and myself. Myself, Ilaria, Edoardo, and Francesco carry out tours and tastings. I often do it in Russian and English, Ilaria usually takes care of them in Italian, English, and French, and Edoardo in English and Italian.
Everyone who is working in Montemaggio gets paid by Montemaggio. We have “indefinite” contracts with Edoardo, Susanna, and Ilaria (that's how it is called in Italy - contratto a tempo indeterminato). The other employees have renewable contracts every year.
In Montemaggio we do composting, it has been my focus in the last couple of years and it perfectly resonates with the zero-waste strategy we are aiming for.