India's First Wine, Food and Hospitality Website, INDIAN WINE ACADEMY, Specialists in Food & Wine Programmes. Food Importers in Ten Cities Across India. Publishers of delWine, India’s First Wine.
Skip Navigation Links
About Us
Indian Market
Wine & Health
Wine Events
Retail News
Contact Us
Skip Navigation Links
Wine Tourism
Book Review
Photo Gallery
Readers' Comments
Video Wall
Media Partners
Ask Wineguyindia
Wine & Food
Wine Guru
Gerry Dawes
Harvest Reports
Mumbai Reports
Advertise With Us
US Report on Indian Market Released
Top Ten Importers List 2015-16
On Facebook
On Twitter
Delhi Wine Club
Tuscan Tasting 2011: Wine Women of Tuscany

Posted: Wednesday, 09 March 2011 10:16

Tuscan Tasting 2011: Wine Women of Tuscany

Mar 8: Women may not have been in the foreground in wine production barely a couple of decades ago but they are quite strong, ambitious and hard working when it comes to being passionate, writes Subhash Arora on the 100th Anniversary of the International Women’s Day today as he met a few of the enterprising women in Tuscany recently, who by sheer dint of courage and passion have become a name to reckon with.

While a woman’s place was considered pretty much in the kitchen and household half a century ago, things have been changing quite fast in Italy as more and more women help their husbands, parents or simply get inheritance of wine estates. Women are being accepted as qualified winemakers as well. But here are just a few of the women I met during my recent trip to Tuscany, who impressed me tremendously not only for their passion for quality but the business acumen as well.

Caterina Dei: Cantina Maria Caterina Dei, known popularly as Dei was started by her grandfather in Montepulciano in 1964 when he started planted his own vines. She remembers playing in the country home around the vineyards as a child. As she grew up her interest in music, art and literature kept on growing. At the same time when her father Galileo started vinification in 1985, the pressure on her to join the business increased. Earlier having no intention of joining the growing wine business, she had not much of a choice being one of the two daughters with the father owning stone quarries having some of the most sought after marble stones. She had to get involved in that business too but gradually she had to handle the wine business.

Looking after the exports, she travels a lot and her Americanized accent shows when she talks of how much she loves to travel and meet different and nice people even though the physical stress gets a bit too much on her sometimes. With her father building a state of the art winery which would be the most modern winery when completed-she gives him all the credit for designing and conceptualizing; it would be one of the most modern small wineries not only in Montepulciano but in Tuscany.

Even though she keeps up with the music- a couple of years ago she had presented us a CD of her music during a dinner at the estate, she is working full time on wines. Caterina loves India and would love to visit- the export of her quality wines-both Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and the Rosso di Montepulciano would do her proud.

Anna Fabroni- Married to  Federico Carletti, the owner of Poliziano Estate and the President of Consorzio Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, she is so modest that she happily kept on pouring one after the other, of Poliziano wines at a dinner that followed a tasting at their Poliziano winery earlier . It’s only when we insisted, she brought out a couple of wines from her own estate Villa Sant'Anna which she owns and runs with her mother Simona, and her sister Margherita.

They share the same consultant winemaker Carlo Ferrini but her winery concentrates on producing Vino Nobile with fragrance and finesse rather than power and muscles that many estates do.

Theirs is truly an all-women team dedicated to improving their wines, planting new vineyards at high density , frequently replacing barrels and barriques and taking immaculate care of the underground cellar which is over a couple of centuries old and where all the wines are aged at natural temperatures.

The Fabroni team produces not only Rosso di Montepulciano and the more sophisticated Vino Nobile di Montepulciano but also Chianti Colli Senesi from the grapes grown in their vineyards.


Although Montalcino has its share of women owners through family divisions like Donatella Cinelli Colombini (it is simpler according to the Italian laws for women to inherit than French, one is told) and Olga Peluso Centolani who owns Donna Olga and Tenute Friggiali e Pietranera and whom I have met a few times earlier, I did not meet them this time and so I shall limit to the following Donne (ladies) whom I met during my visit to Montalcino:

Emilia Nardi- The owner of Tenute Silvio Nardi, a premier wine estate in Montalcino is a known and respected name despite her being a woman, a discriminated gender till recent years. Her father came to Montalcino in 1955 for a casual visit and fell in love with the place. He bought 1400 hAs of land out of which 80 hAs are classified and planted as Brunello vineyards.

Since 1985, she has been running the winery zealously.' We have 25 different types of soils on our property including totally different characteristics and the North side totally differs from the South side, giving totally different characteristics,' says Emilia. Weather is quite important too. 'We are always looking up at the sky. Every year is different. We try to harvest when phenolic maturity is at its best.' 

'People did not take me seriously as a winemaker when I was young and active,' she says. ‘I haven't been to university for oenology but at the age of 42 I decided to do my executive MBA when I lived in Trieste.’ She says. Well settled and respected now, she divides her time by being 3 days at the winery and 2 days as the housewife with her family.

Manachiara, a "cru" created from a specially vinified selection of the finest grapes from a designated vineyard within the estate properties is entirely her creation and is a specialty wine from the estate. In fact, the 2006 was exceptional in flavour and balance and should mature and get better and better for the next 15 years.

Gaia Gaja- A few years ago when I met her, she would go into childlike giggles constantly but now she has become a charming lady who carries confidently the responsibility of being a Gaja as she sets about the task of marketing Gaja wines from his Piemontese estate in Barbaresco or the Pieve Santa Restituta, the Montalcino estate her father Angelo Gaja bought in 1994 and turned into a premium estate.

The old estate was restored for many years and was opened last year. I was one of the privileged few who were invited to visit the winery last year on the very first day of opening and after tasting the range of their wines was invited to dinner with her. She is aware of the superstar image of her celebrity wine producer father Angelo Gaja but is not fazed by the fact that she may be the heiress-apparent and that she has to continue to march ahead under the guidance of her father.

‘We entered Montalcino not brandishing our Gaja name and therefore our labels do not throw the Gaja name at your face. I am glad the local people have accepted us as a Montalcino producer and not as a Barbaresco one, ‘she says with modesty and yet an air of confidence.

Elisabetta Gnudi Angelini: If you meet her at a party you would think she is a Tuscan housewife. You could not be more wrong. She owns two wineries in Montalcino- Caparzo and Altesino. The only thing common that these wineries have is a boundary wall. They are totally independent business center with the independent vineyards and the winemakers and of course, the marketing. What is amazing is that she was not born into a wine producing family but used to produce movies and distribute them in Rome in her earlier days.

The reason for keeping them independent may be quite logical. Altesino was a traditional winery which she purchased in 2002 while Caparzo had been in her pocket already in She also owns Borgo Scopeto in Chianti Classico and Doga Delle Clavale in Maremma.

Caparzo is not the first winery she bought although ‘this was the dream property I had always wanted to own when I was in Rome.’ The opportunity came up when she landed with sizable money but the winery was not for sale. She could only acquire a part in the company and had to settle for Borgo Scopeto in 1998.  Bothe Doga and Altesino were purchased in 2002, she informed me while having dinner next to me after the tasting which I could only rush through as I had arrived late from an earlier tasting engagement at Col d’Orcia.

She is quite a fan of India and any of these wineries will be a welcome presence. Her La Casa Cru ( a blend of grapes from special vineyards) Brunello is highly rated.

The helping hands

Two women who are not producers but are very actively and passionately involved in the promotion of the wines from their area and worth mentioning are Silvia Fiorentini, Marketing and Communications Manager of Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico and Stefania Tacconi of Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino. Not only are they pleasant sights at these tastings, they are extremely dedicated, passionate and committed to the cause of their respective Consorzios.

These women are pillars of their respective organisations and deserve a salute on the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day celebrated today throughout the world.

Subhash Arora
March 8, 2011


Want to Comment ?
Please enter your comments in the space provided below. If there is a problem, please write directly to Thank you.

Generate a new image

Type letters from the image:

Please note that it may take some time to get your comment published...Editor

Wine In India, Indian Wine, International Wine, Asian Wine Academy, Beer, Champagne, World Wine Academy, World Wine, World Wines, Retail, Hotel


Copyright©indianwineacademy, 2003-2020 |All Rights Reserved
Developed & Designed by Sadilak SoftNet