The Quest for a Perfect Tuscan Home
In the winter of 2006 my husband and I had a brilliant idea: in order to escape the harsh weather in Krakow, Poland, we decided to buy a small house with a garden in a warmer part of Europe. After lots discussion we decided on Italy, where the sun is plentiful, the food is delicious and the people are always happy and smiling.
Over the course of the following year and multiple visits to Tuscany, we drove more than 12,000 kilometers in the process of visiting over 100 houses! With each successive trip our love of Tuscany grew, our dream expanded, and the budget went up!
We became intent on finding a typical Tuscan borgo, that is a mini-village with one main big building surrounded by a few smaller houses. How else could we comfortably accommodate not only our extended family but also our friends from all over the world? This place, if we could find it, was to become the anchor of our lives, a home where we would raise our children and spend some of the very best moments of our lives.
Fabio – then our real estate agent and now our close friend – helped us make our dream come true when he brought us to San Giustino in February 2007. I saw the main gate, the cypress alley, and I knew right then and there that the search was over. I didn’t even look at the interiors of the buildings. I entered the courtyard and said “We're home.”
The wine we produce here at Terre di San Giustino is a reflection of my personality and our lifestyle. We make it for the people who matter most to us, our family and friends, hence the names of our first two wines – Il Primo Figlio (Firstborn Son) Per Amici (For Friends) and Monello (The Rascal). I can compare the efforts put into our production process to the work I've put into the restoration of the entire estate. It really describes well who we are, the way we work, and the values that guide us. Each part of the house at San Giustino has been carefully renovated; each stone, each beam and each roof tile is there on purpose. I spent hundreds of hours driving around the countryside in search of original stone and wooden elements, soft textures and materials, and the right hues. Every single detail was thought through and nothing was left to chance. I tried to use as many original architectural elements typical of Tuscan farm houses as possible. I also received an enormous amount of help and support in restoring and replacing original features from local artists such as Marco Valentini – our irreplaceable carpenter. This restoration project was guided by the same principles by which we make our wine: there are no compromises; everything has to be absolutely perfect.
Planting the Vineyard
At first we decided to plant a vineyard to produce a good quality wine for our friends and family, not knowing that a two-hectare vineyard can produce almost 15,000 bottles of wine a year! Although we're known for hosting great events, this most definitely exceeds the potential consumption by all our friends and family (and their friends and their friends' families!) combined. This is when I started working with a local agronomist to understand if we could make a marketable product. Together, we examined the chemical composition of the soil, the slope of the land, natural watering and drainage possibilities, and most importantly the number of hours of sunlight. Fortunately for us, the property is not only ideally situated for growing grapes, allowing for rows that could be planted north to south for increased exposure to the sun, but the slopes and terraces are even perfect with a gentle downward southern slope truly maximizing the growing potential of the land. Also, the soil turned out to be typical for the Chianti growing region, a mixture of clay and rock in local parlance called “galestro” and “alberese”. We learned that we didn't just have the capacity for producing a good wine, we have the potential for producing a remarkable wine! So the process began, and we planted most of our arable land with a local variety of Sangiovese to use as the base for our wines. Later on we decided to compliment our Sangiovese with Merlot, Petit Verdot, Canaiolo, Syrah, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.