Who we are
Andrea Franchetti works with two very different vineyard projects. Franchetti created his first estate Tenuta di Trinoro from scratch, on rough farm and woodland in the far-flung reaches of southwest Tuscany. Though a significant challenge, this was equaled by his endeavor on the slopes of Mt. Etna, which involved the renaissance of reclaimed formerly abandoned terraces of vines upon Sicily’s live volcano.
Both sites are extraordinary, complex, and poles apart in terms of terroir. From both his Tuscan and Sicilian estates, Franchetti has produced a portfolio of wines that is rich and diverse. Each wine expresses the characteristics of the vintage, the particulars of the locations, and the fullest potential of the varieties.
In 2012, Carlo Franchetti began to produce wines from Pinot Noir grapes grown high in the hills surrounding San Casciano dei Bagni, and the following year Sancaba was born as Andrea became involved, as they worked together to coax the unique characteristics, depth, and richness expressed by the grape in this elevated terroir. In 2014, the Franchetti cousins brought their estates together and formed a new company, Vini Franchetti.
I like making wine. It is a work of art that changes with every year. A person is influenced during that year by the landscape of the place where he makes it. He is impressed by the natural scenery of the every day, through the changing seasons, and transfers this impression to the wine he makes. So, first: every year the wine is different. Second: as I change, my winemaking changes. Wines carry the signature of who makes them. Wines are very much like the winemakers who made them. In the beginning you are relaxed, and only need to focus on the viticulture, which you have time to learn because the first grapes come on the plants after 4-5 years. Then comes picking – the most difficult thing to decide when to do it, and you need a lot of experience to pick at the right ripeness, not under ripe nor overripe. One day of difference changes the wine completely. Then you have to manage the fermentation, and all the hundreds of stages of winemaking after that, each one of which calls for a decision, and they all accumulate, giving a particular style to the wine. It is too complicated to describe them, but it continues until you bottle, some twenty months later. The first times I panicked a lot. But I had talent and I had good teachers, winemakers whom I called on.” – Andrea Franchetti
Andrea Franchetti is one of Italy’s most fascinating winemakers, bringing his intuitive and poetic worldview to the way he makes his wines. Born to an American mother and Italian father, raised in Rome surrounded by artists including his uncle Cy Twombly, exploration and experimentation have been in his blood. Franchetti left home at eighteen and rode a bicycle to Afghanistan, then spent time in New York’s East Village in the 1960s. Later, he opened a few restaurants, one in Rome and one in Le Marche, before moving back to New York in the 1980s, starting an import business of great Italian wines, that were just then beginning to claim the international scene.
Franchetti launched himself into the world of winemaking in the nineties, leaving behind city life once he began to restore the ruins of a country home in the Val d’Orcia, a no-man’s land on the border of Tuscany and Lazio with no history of producing wine. He decided he wanted a vineyard, but having no experience in winemaking, he went to Bordeaux, learning from and absorbing the philosophy of great winemakers including Peter Vinding, Peter Sisseck, Alain Vautheir of Ausone, and Luc Thunévin of Valandraud. In 1991, he planted his first vines with cuttings brought over from Bordeaux, and in 1997, after years of experimentation, released the first vintage of Tenuta di Trinoro to critical praise.
In 2000, he visited Sicily and was taken by the abandoned vines climbing the sides of Mt. Etna at over 1000m of altitude. He decided to restore an old farm and cellars on the higher slopes of the active volcano, which he called Passopisciaro. By buying up vineyards and planting non-native varieties like Petit Verdot, cesanese d’Affile, and chardonnay alongside the local nerello mascalese, he helped initiate a winemaking renaissance in the region alongside other pioneers. One of the first to recognize the individualized terroirs of varying lava flows, he has promoted the concept of the contrada, importing the concept of the cru from Burgundy. His work on Mt. Etna has ranged from making single-vineyard bottlings from areas on different altitudes to establishing the now internationally acclaimed wine festival Le Contrade dell’Etna.