The story of Panzanello begins long ago, in 1427, a year that also marks the beginning of an unceasing effort to develop and apply The Method whereby the land was educated to “improve itself”, introduced for the first time in 1436 by Franciesco Ciucci D’Ugolino, who had the brilliant idea of selecting the grapes in advance and reusing the seeds of the best varieties to ensure that the land would continue to bear better and better fruit.
In 1964 the property of Panzanello was acquired by Anna Maria Sommaruga, Andrea’s grandmother, who decided to spend six months out of the year at her country home. Panzano in Chianti, a little town of farmers devoted to their vineyards, their olive groves, where they know and care little they know about the world around them, the ideal place to relax.
Panzanello had a much smaller house but it was lovely. The present villa came into being as the remodeling of a large farmhouse, consisting of the stable on lower floor, the home of the family of farmers in the middle section and a grain storage silo at the top. Grandmother Anna Maria decided to redesign it as it is now to house her children and grandchildren and teach the future generations the real meaning of “family”.
In 1965 works on the great house were finished and the vineyards around it were managed by dear Luigi and his wife Maria. The grapes were delivered to the local cooperative winery of “Grevepesa” and the oil was sufficient for the needs of Grandma and her children. Panzanello was then a farm of 30 hectares (75 acres)and is now much larger, with about 120 hectares (300 acres).
This is where Andrea got his love for the vineyards and in 1993, when he decided he didn’t really want to be a financial consultant in Rome, he asked his grandmother if he could move to Panzanello and see whether his future might be there. She agreed, and that is how, in 1994, he began his adventure as a winemaker.
From the beginning, Andrea Sommaruga continued to “educate” his vineyards, just as Franciesco Ciucci D’Ugolino had done in 1436, constantly selecting the finest grapes so as to produce, year after year, quality wines. Those who drink Panzanello wines are given the opportunity to feel the passion that lies behind them, taking what is a real trip in time.
Andrea worked hard in the fields, learning from Luigi and his son-in-law, Vasco. They taught him how to tend the vines, how to prune them and tie them, how to harvest the grapes, how to prune and pollard the olives, how to drive the tractors and all the other machinery. Everything he knows today he learned thanks to them. He bottled his first wine in 1995 and it wasn’t a bad start for a beginner. He started with 900 bottles and now Panzanello produces more than 50,000 every year.
In 1997 Andrea married Ioletta and she too, moving from Rome to Panzanello, gave up her idea of being an architect. She started getting involved in her husband’s business, but since she gets more pleasure from dealing with the people who come from all over the world to taste their wines, she has taken charge of the public relations and runs the hospitality side of Panzanello Farm.
Over the years, Andrea and his staff have perfected every stage of the winemaking process, so that the wines now satisfy and win the approval of even the most expert among his clients. But he is his own most critical client, and that is why Andrea has invested all his efforts in ensuring that every single bottle conveys its uniqueness.
According to Andrea, there are two secrets to success with wine:
The first secret is patience……… the patience to wait until everything is perfectly ripe for a product of QUALITY
The second secret is respect …… respect for nature, and since 1998 Panzanella has been ORGANIC.
If you want to hear the rest of the story, just ask Andrea and Ioletta’s two boys, Giorgio and Carlo!