Italy is so beautiful it’s almost a cliché. The hills tumble softly across the horizon as far as the eye can see, and they’re bathed in a warm, golden light. You are there, enjoying a wine tasting in Tuscany. A tiny speck perched on one of those peaks, watching the clouds go by, so close you feel as though you could reach them with your fingertips.
Nestled in the undulating hillsides of Chiesanuova, just 30 minutes away from bustling Florence, is a biodynamic gem and one of the best vineyards in Tuscany: Fattoria Montanine. Owned by the Casanova family (yes you read that correctly), the impeccable 14th-century property produces its own wine and olive oil and is a peek inside a traditional and authentic family-owned and operated winery. It is everything you’d hope it to be, old-world elegant with sweeping views of the forested hills, vineyards and olive groves. And it's one of the Florence wine tours we highly recommend.
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The history of Le Montanine
14th century Florentine aristocrats
Purchased by the Casanova family in 1930s
World War II comes to Le Montanine
German Occupation in Tuscany
Nobody quite knows for sure how old the property is, but there are historic records of it belonging to Florentine aristocrats from as far back as the 14th century. The current family, the Casanovas, have passed it down from generation to generation for nearly a hundred years. Their patriarch, Vittorio Casanova was a businessman from Monza, just north of Milan, and bought it in the 1930s as a summer home for his family to enjoy the warmth of a sun-soaked season away from the cooler climates.
But World War II was looming just on the horizon and by the 1940s, the German forces had made their way into Tuscany, forcing the family to flee north to the Lake Como region where they took shelter with other family members. The local farmers who remained, fled the surrounding forests, only surfacing to collect fresh water before going back into hiding.
The stunning vistas and hilltops provided a high vantage point across the surrounding valleys, so the villa was quickly occupied by German commanding officers. When the bombing finally subsided, there were many casualties, and the villa was badly damaged by the constant shelling. Miraculously the local farmers and winemakers had all survived. After the war, the Casanova family returned and began the long process of repairing and restoring the property to resemble its original grandeur again.
The Tuscan wines of Fattoria Montanine:
Chianti Colli Fiorentini
The estate sits on 183 stunning acres of certified organic vineyards and forests with roughly 3,000 olive trees. This is the Chianti region and as such, the Chianti Colli Fiorentini DOCG with its Sangiovese, Colorino, Malvasia Nera and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and smooth finish, is not to be missed.
If you’re unfamiliar with Italian wine tiering system, the DOCG classification means they have undergone very strict quality control measures that have been set in place by the Italian government. As such, the winery at Le Montanine is one of roughly 77 that gain approval to bear the esteemed distinction. The winery produces its own array of DOCG, DOC and IGT varietals all bottled and stored in the cellars onsite.
When asked how they describe their biodynamic wines, their winemaker says: “The bottle is not a sarcophagus but a second womb where the essence of days of labor, tears, sweat, laughter, anxiety and lightheartedness has been kept.”
It’s hard not understand such a romantic description when you learn they use the natural elements: earth, air, fire and water as guides in their agricultural processes. The tilling, sowing and pruning all follow an almanac calendar that tracks the passage of the sun and moon through the constellations. They also create their own compost that is dissolved to liquid and then added to a finely ground quartz and spring water mixture, then sprayed on the vines at dawn.
If it hasn’t been expressly pointed out yet, there is so much love and soul in this winery and their products.
Want authentic Tuscan olive oil shipped straight to your home? Check out a few of our family-owned, small business favorites on Amazon: Fattoria Bini Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the 2022 harvest or the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition Gold Award-winner Entimio Vivace. You won't regret it!
The Tuscan olive oil of Fattoria Montanine
As with the estate itself, the olive oil from Le Montanine has its own story of triumph and tribulation. A pestilent frost swept across the olive grove in 1985, wiping out ancient trees and causing them to be cut down to their stumps. But after some years, the unwavering trees sprung back and began producing their precious fruit again.
The Casanova family tends to the olive groves in the adjacent season for grapes, in a harmonious dance. When the vineyards are harvested and prepped for the winter, the olive pruning begins. As with the grapes, the olives are also picked by hand.
After the pruning shears and ladders are put away and the harvest is complete, the wide olive nets are gathered and shaken into wooden crates. They are then transported to the mill for pressing.
Le Montanine’s delicious amber oil is made from traditional Tuscan olive varietals: Leccino, Pendolino, Moraiolo and Frantoio, and is both extra-virgin and organic, so it retains its antioxidants and vitamins that are typically lost upon processing. It does not exceed a .4% acidity, making it among the highest quality one can achieve.
Where to stay if you’re enjoying Tuscany wine tours from Florence
The responsible portion of a wine tour in Tuscany is anything but drab. If you’re staying in one of the hotels in Florence, Le Montanine is only 30 minutes away, making it extremely convenient to spend a few hours in the countryside and still get back in time for dinner. The drive is also beautiful, full of the winding roads and sprawling views you’d hope to find driving through Italian wine country, with grand old villas dotting the hillsides.
But for those who’d like to experience the full range of wine tastings without having to drive back to Florence, Le Montanine offers several rental options from the grand Villa Poggio, to smaller holiday homes like the Sughera and apartments right on their property.
The historic Villa Poggio (the one that was occupied by German soldiers) is perfect for large groups as there are 11 bedrooms that sleep 20, seven bathrooms and many panoramic terraces and a private pool. The home is spread across four separate floors so there is plenty of room without feeling like you’re tripping over each other.
Given its size and splendor, this is also a really beautiful location to host a destination wedding. Which is exactly what we did and how we found this beautiful little gem. We spent a lazy and bucolic week at the Villa Poggio with 16 of our closest friends and family, and were married on the terrace of Le Montanine Winery. The staff was excellent and the memories for our guests will truly last a lifetime.
Le Montanine wine tasting costs:
20 euros per person
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Ashley Oñoz-Wright has been a travel writer and editor based in Las Vegas, NV for the last nine years and is a regular contributor for Manifesting Travel, Modern Luxury, Sophisticated Living, Greenspun Media Group, Vegas.com and LasVegas.com. She holds a degree in Sociology & Anthropology from DePauw University.