Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

There is a magical road near Quercegrossa in the countryside of Castelnuovo Berardenga. It is surrounded by vineyards, enormous boulders, and trees that explode with flowers in the spring time. At the end of the road is a small burg.Fattoria di Petroio

(literally, the place of rocks) is a place where passion, technology and modernity combine and send us back to the old days. The proprietor of the farm is Diana Lenzi.

“The farm”, she tells us, “has belonged to the maternal side of my father Gianluigi’s family since 1800. In the past, it was much bigger than today. Nearly 30 families lived among the town and its terrain. It was old-style with olive oil, wine, grain, orzo and animals”.

In 1978, Diana’s father met Pamela, an American from Seattle. She arrived in Italy in 1969 at the age of 18. She was supposed to study Italian for a semester, but she fell in love with Tuscany: “My parents decided to dedicate themselves to Petroio, to create a house for a large extended family and to concentrate on the vineyards. They were fascinated: here we made a rustic and country wine. My father continued his medical career while my mother ran Petroio”.

We had always intended to make a traditional Chianti Classico. “My mother is madly in love with Sangiovese and its components (Canaiolo, Colorino, and Black Malvasia). In the 80s we planted some Merlot as a type of insurance for production. The enologist said that all of the vineyards needed to be re-done, and my parents invested piece by piece”.

Then Diana’s moment arrived. “In 2008, I graduated with a degree in political science, but I decided to follow my passion for cooking. I got a diploma as a chef with the professional school, Gambero Rosso. I decided to move here. I am not an owner that looks on from above. I put my feet in the vineyards and my hands in the wine tanks. I also am in charge of bureaucratic management….economic-administrative, and commercial”.

What about the future? “I imagine a smaller Petroio, a dimension to my liking. I would also like to have more guests, tastings, cooking. When I was young my mother put me in the sink while she cooked. I always followed her measuring flour, sugar, etc. My mother always left the doors open for everybody….for lunches and dinners. I am the same”.

Last year Diana planted three hectares of vineyards which came from a clone selection that lasted three years: “In fact we used the last vineyard from the 1960’s and selected Sangiovese Canaiolo, Colorino, black Malvasia, as well as white Malvasia and Trebbiano.  Almost 70% of the cuttings came from our selection. I think that our Gran Selezione (Great Selection) will come from here, because I can’t imagine anything greater. Our holy wine, Vinsanto del Chianti Classico and a new organic IGT will also come from here”.

“As far as the burg is concerned”,  concludes Diana, “we are about to present a maxi project for its restoration. In that way we can finally have a professional kitchen and wine tasting and event room. We are also enlarging the business, creating a fruit grove and Community vegetable garden”.

Matteo Pucci