"The considerable appeal of this countryside is given by its varied cultivation [....], by the richness of the products of the olive trees, the mulberry trees, the forests and, markedly, by the excellent quality of the vines that are cultivated here".
With these words in 1833 Emanuele Repetti described the territory of Cerreto Guidi, where the noble Alessandri family owned as many as thirteen farms that all linked up with the main Petriolo farm.
Over four centuries, the Alessandri family made of Petriolo a beautiful property, rich in villas, gardens, vegetable patches, woods and brick factories such as the one belonging to the Golpaja farm which in the 16th century baked the bricks with which the Villa Medicea of Cerreto Guidi was built. The Petriolo complex bears witness to this great past as it is still possible to see traces of the ancient residence of Messer Alessandro which is mentioned in various documents dating back from as early as 1574.
In subsequent centuries the history of Petriolo developed in two ways, as a production centre and as the owner's place of leisure, up to the years between the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, when the entire complex was restructured and embellished according to the taste of the time.
In the stones of the buildings that make up the Petriolo complex one can therefore read the changes and transformations which have marked the history of the hills surrounding the Florentine plain: a slow and harmonious process which has made them the protagonists of a landscape that is unique in the world
The Petriolo estate, surrounded by the Tuscan hills, is only 40 km away from Florence. It is formed by a group of farmhouses gathered around the ancient villa, once the residence of the noble Alessandri family.
Its position is particularly good, located as it is on the top of a hill from which a beautiful view can be enjoyed. It is a suggestive environment, rich in history and charm, typically Tuscan, in which modern production structures, now indispensable to guarantee valid qualitative standards especially in the winemaking sector, are perfectly integrated.
The production area covers a surface of 160 ha (395 acres), composed of vineyards (14 ha - 34.5 acres), olive groves (13 ha - 32 acres), fruit trees and woods.
Villa Petriolo is prevalently a wine-making company, with vineyards located at an altitude of between 150 and 200 metres (330 - 440 feet), with a stony soil of medium texture. The grape varieties that are cultivated here are Sangiovese, a small percentage of Colorino and Merlot for the production of red wines, Malvasia Bianca, Trebbiano Toscano and San Colombano for the production of Vin Santo del Chianti.
The growing techniques used are spurred cordon, guyot and tuscan arched cane.
Special care goes into the vinification and the aging of wines.
Grapes are hand-picked, placed in perforated crates and taken to the cellar where, through a soft pressing, the must is obtained.
The vinification of the Chianti takes place in vitrified and thermo-conditioned cement vats for approximately two weeks. The same procedure is used with the Golpaja, a red wine with a great structure obtained prevalently from the selection of Sangiovese grapes. The wine is racked-off directly into French oak casks where it is left to mature for one year while the fining takes place in the bottle for at least four months.
Quite complex is the processing of the famous Vin Santo del Chianti, pearl of the Tuscan oenology. Its precious white grapes, once selected and picked, are placed in the vinsantaia where the drying process starts and which can last up to the following spring. During this long process, the grapes are constantly checked until they are ready to be pressed.
The resulting wine is left to age in small French oak and chestnut wood casks where the Vin Santo matures for five years.
A substantial part of the production of the Tenuta di Petriolo consists of an excellent extra-virgin olive oil IPG.
The olive trees cultivated on the estate are mainly of the Leccino and Frantoio variety. Olives are exclusively handpicked, then kept in a cool, well-ventilated place and pressed so as to maintain and optimise the quality of the oil itself.
Purchased forty years ago by the Maestrelli family, Villa Petriolo has for a long time simply been the family's country house, a place of leisure, relaxation and meditation. This is how Moreno, the founder of the family, had imagined it.
An entrepreneur who loves art and the countryside, Moreno is a fine carver of wooden sculptures and has for many years drawn the inspiration for his works from the silence of the hills surrounding the property.
The most outstanding of his works is a light stand (the base consisting of a large piece of machinery on which the trunk of an olive tree has been mounted on top of which is an original lamp), which represents the world and its contrasts: the skill of technique, the power of nature and the intelligence of man.
At the same time, over the years, he has nurtured the idea of making of Villa Petriolo a place of artistic aggregation and promotion.
Moreno's idea has today been brought to life chiefly by his daughter Silvia, his second-born, who eight years ago, by following her father's inspiration and her love for the places she grew up in, started a project of radical conversion of Villa Petriolo from family estate into a modern farming business capable of producing products of excellent quality.
Silvia has invested energy and enthusiasm in the farm, renovating the rooms, the cellars and the vineyards. Brave and tenacious, Silvia successfully completed her project in 2002 when the realization of the first implantation of Sangiovese, carried out according to the most modern rearing systems, coincided with the birth of her daughter Lavinia.
Now Silvia Maestrelli thinks of Petriolo not only as a place of real life and, why not, of cultural promotion, but also as a modern company able to assert itself on the market thanks the unquestionable quality of the wines and of the oil that are produced on the farm. The Petriolo estate is located in a region which unites landscape beauty to a very ancient cultural tradition.
Its closeness to cities and towns like Florence, Pisa, Vinci and Lucca makes of Villa Petriolo an ideal point of departure for those who want to alternate pleasant trips to the quietness of the winery.
The history of this land is that of the people who live here, so closely attached to their roots. Hence the desire to create a place in which, beside the ancient art of "making wine", also the creativity of young artists could find its expression. In Villa Petriolo painters, sculptors and creatives can exhibit their works of art.
This initiative is, beyond any doubts, an attraction for the visitors to the wine estate, for young artists an occasion to show their talent and the fruits of their work and for country lovers an occasion to spend a pleasant day enjoying art, wine and nature.
In the running of the business, Silvia is assisted by her sister Simona.
A graduate in foreign languages, Simona has chosen to invest her knowledge of languages in the family business, and is in charge of the reception of the numerous guests, especially foreigners, who every year visit Villa Petriolo.
With her sensitivity, passion and knowledge, Simona personally takes care of the organization of visits to the cellars and of tasting of the farm's wines.