The Villa of Vignamaggio, surrounded by an elegant Italian garden in a stunningly beautiful corner of the Chianti countryside, offers an authentic testimony of countrylife during the Renaissance period. The main part of the villa dates back to the 14th century.
The Gherardi family who bought the villa from the Gherardini at the end of the 16th century, were responsible for its present appearance.
Mona Lisa, the daughter of Anton Maria Gherardini, was born at Vignamaggio in 1479. The Gherardini were a noble family in Tuscany, probably of Etruscan or Roman origin.
They began to construct their castle at Montagliari on a hill dominating the Greve river valley.
From this position the Gherardini often robbed the merchants on their way to Florence, who in 1302 finally decided to put an end to these episodes and besieged the castle.
After a long hard battle the Gherardini moved to the other side of the valley at Vignamaggio where they built the first part of the villa.
The estate was bought in 1925 by Contessa Elena Samminiatelli, whose family restored the Italian gardens and the villa.
Since 1988 Mr. Gianni Nunziante the new owner has undertaken an extensive renovation of the buildings, the gardens, the vineyards and the wine cellars.
Research carried out at the Datini archives in Prato has brought to light a number of documents relating to Vignamaggio. One of these, in particular, dated 26 October 1404, consists of a letter to Francesco Datini signed by Amido Gherardini, at that time the owner of the estate, which talks about "vino inbotato a Vignamag(i)o" (literally "wine placed in barrels at Vignamaggio"). For this reason, in 2004 the estate celebrated six hundred years of winemaking.
The estate covers an area of 140 hectares, situated in the heart of the Chianti Classico district, in the municipality of Greve in Chianti.
52 hectares (=128 US acres) of the estate are occupied by vineyards and there are eleven hectares of olive-groves. The vineyards have a mainly south-western and eastern exposure and are situated at an altitude of between 330 m and 400 m a.s.l.
The main vine variety is Sangiovese, which occupies 82% of the area dedicated to the cultivation of vines.
The Cabernet Franc is the estate's peculiarity since it consists of vines of over forty years of age which have a very low yeld and are located among the Sangiovese in the old vineyards. Since 1990 the Cabernet Franc has been vinified separately .
The plantation density of the old vineyards is still 3500 vine-stocks per hectare. The vines are Tuscan bow pruned: this involves bending one or two branches, 6-7 buds long, in a downward direction. The new vineyards are planted obtaining a plantation density of 5680 vine-stocks per hectare. Currently these vines are single or double cordon trained: this involves having one or two permanent horizontal branches located at height of 60/70 cm from the ground on which 4 to 6 short "spurs", with 1 or 2 buds, are left after pruning.
In the event of any imbalance, interventions are carried out at veraison (when the berries change from green to red), i.e. at the end of July, eliminating the excess clusters.
The olive-groves, of indeterminable age,which were restored following the severe frost of 1984, consist of the traditional Chiantivarieties-Frantoio, Leccino, Moraiolo and Pendolino- which are pruned using the polyconic vase method.
Frantoio, also known as Correggiolo, Frantoiano or Razzo, is native to Tuscany. The olive oil produced is highly valued, elegant, tasty and very fruity.
Moraiolo, also called Morellino or Morello, is another Tuscan variety which can be found throughout Central Italy. This olive oil is greatly appreciated for the high content of the non saponifiable fraction (squalene).
The origins of Leccino, which is cultivated throughout Italy, are uncertain. This variety is very resistant to the cold.
Pendolino, also known as Piangente, is native to the Florentine area. The plant has decidedly pendulous bearing, hence its name ("pendolino" literally means "pendulum").
The average production over the last ten years is 18,000 kg of olives, producing 3,300 litres of oil.
The olives are also picked entirely by hand in the month of November. The olives are stored in crates and pressed within 48 hours. The olives are crushed in an authorized external oil press using the continuous extraction method.
Vignamaggio is a wine estate in the Chianti countryside, known for its beautiful Renaissance villa, its delicious wines, for being the birthplace of the Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo and, last but not least, for an outstanding agritourism which is positioned at the high end of the hospitality available in the area.
The agriturism consists of rooms, suites and apartments, each one different from the next, situated in the villa and in three different old farmhouses which have been carefully and tastefully restored and furnished and which are complemented with outdoor and indoor facilities such as a tennis court, two swimming pools, mountain bikes, gym and a children playground.