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.