Vignamaggio is a historical estate in the heart of Chianti Classico, halfway between Florence and Siena. Vignamaggio has a long history, a story weaving the fascinating biographies of all her owners into the adventures of the families that worked there. Seven centuries of history and a sprinkling of folklore did all the rest.
The noble Tuscan Gherardini family build their own castle at Montagliari, on a hill overlooking the Greve River Valley. Next to the castle, the family builds the church of Santa Maria della Neve.
The Gherardini family are banished from Florence by the Black Guelphs and take up residence in the Montagliari castle. Forced out of exile, the White Guelph families unite in the Greve Valley to oppose the political dominance of the Black Guelphs. They organise violent attacks to obstruct the transportation of food supplies and merchandise to Florence.
The city of Florence, weary of defending itself against these constant episodes of sabotage, destroys the Gherardini castle. The Gherardini family has no option but to move to the other side of the valley, to Vignamaggio.
With the economic and social development of farms, the ancient settlement at Vignamaggio slowly becomes a small, elegant homestead surrounded by a few farms. Cione Gherardini, known as Il Pelliccia (meaning The Fur Coat, possibly because of his passion for hunting), lives here with his family.
The first document providing evidence of winemaking at Vignamaggio is drawn up. The 1404 parchment of Amidio Gherardini (one of Cione’s sons) provides a symbolic tribute to the history of Vignamaggio’s long winemaking journey that began more than 600 years ago.
To pay their debts, the Gherardini are obliged to cede their estate to the Florentine Gherardi family, rich silk merchants and allies of the Medici family. The two farms surrounding the estate, Termine and Casolese, follow a sharecropper system and are managed by two tenant families that develop the land and fields on farms.
During this period, the villa develops even further. The Vignamaggio farm is featured on the map of the people of San Niccolò in Montagliari, in the book Popoli e Strade dei capitani di Parte Guelfa.
Andrea Gherardi keeps the farm for a long time, buying new farms and increasing production on all of them. Vineyards, orchards, olive groves and chestnut forests surround the house, which already has a private chapel, an oil mill, some ovens, the charming internal courtyard with its well, the stables, cacio cheese room and a few chicken houses.
The estate produces and sells wine, oil, wheat, barley and smaller quantities of mulberry leaves, cocoons, pigeons, fruit and wood. Vignamaggio is comprised of no less than 17 smaller farms, each one the producer of its own speciality, such as hazelnuts from the Luco farm and almonds and figs from the Termine farm.
At the beginning of the century, the entire region falls victim to a destructive agricultural crisis. In 1831, the Gherardi family sells the villa, and the property passes through the hands of various owners for the remainder of the century.
Vineyards and olive groves dominate the Chianti landscape, to the detriment of small-scale grain farms and fruit orchards. In 1926, the Sanminiatelli Counts turn Vignamaggio into an important art and culture centre, hosting celebrity guests and parties that are still spoken of today. In 1987, the estate is bought by the Nunziante family, who restore the buildings and gardens, renovate the cellars and open the estate to the public.
Vignamaggio embarks on an ambitious expansion and restoration project driven by architect Patrice Taravella. The expansion of the gardens, renovation of the buildings and diversification of agricultural activities are designed to make Vignamaggio an all-round experience. The farm is transformed into an avant-garde organic agricultural estate.