These lovely terraced hillsides filled with vines belong to the winery of Tenuta San Guido, one of the biggest and most important producers of Bordeaux-style red wines in northern Italy. Although wine has been grown in this region since ancient times, the origin of Tenuta San Guido is relatively recent–the 20th century. An Italian horse tycoon named Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, who married a girl local to this region in 1930, planted the first cabernet vines here in 1942, while Italy was deeply engaged in World War II. After the war Rocchetta got rich from his ownership and management of a thoroughbred racehorse called Ribot, considered one of the greatest horses of all time. Rocchetta’s vines were originally only for family consumption, the first vintage being produced in 1948. The winery was then called Sassicaia. In 1971, Rochetta’s son Nicolo convinced the family to begin releasing the wine publicly, beginning with the 1968 vintage. Sassicaia’s red wine burst over Europe like a bombshell, impressing wine critics with its deep rich tones. Instantly it became a stalwart of the Italian wine scene.
Today Tenuta San Guido cultivates over 190 acres of grapes, many of them sangiovese, a classic ingredient in the best Italian wines. As I was roving over the area on Google Earth I was amazed at the almost endless hillsides of vines that go on and on. Clearly this is one of the powerhouse wineries of Italy, and it couldn’t be placed in a more beautiful location.
Italy is one of the most beautiful countries on earth, and landscapes like this are a dime a dozen. Wineries like this are a reminder of the incredibly rich heritage that viticulture has in Europe and in the human experience. Being able to visit a place like this would be a dream come true. Until then, we can at least taste the soil in their wines!