Virtual Day Four: Getting to Know Gracciano
Updated: May 21
Villa Maramai, where we are encamped for a month, is located in the Maramai vineyard of The Gracciano dell Seta Estate in the Chiana valley (extending from Florence south to Orvieto). The valley is renowned for its wine, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, its succulent T-bone steaks from the wide-horned white Chianina cattle (from its namesake valley), and its use of fresh, high quality ingredients in its food.
In Tuscany, food is personal.The wild boar on the menu at night is typically shot that morning and delivered to the back door of your restaurant by a local hunter. The quality of the lettuce in your salad, the tenderness of your pasta, the richness of the pasta sauce, the creaminess of your desert – all of it is the basis for a reputation that is reinforced over decades and even, in some cases, centuries. Each person in the supply chain of your meal is completely devoted to providing their absolute best. This requires mastery of unique skills, commitment, and passion without which they could not withstand plagues, droughts, infestations, and wars.It is this dedication to craft, and dare I say love, that you taste in the food and wine of this region.In Tuscany, the soul of the producer is present in every meal. And, because of this, meals are savored and not devoured.
Below: Farmer is bringing fresh picked produce to local restaurant. Mario and York are hunting for truffles that will appear on a pasta that evening.
The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a “vino a denominazione di origine controllata” (DOCG), an Italian government guarantee to buyers that the wine is specific to one of only 21 regions of Italy. The Gracciano Estate is one of the oldest wineries in Montepulciano, started in the early 1800’s by the Svetoni family who handed over the property 40 years ago to the della Seta family. Today, the Gracciano Estate encompasses 172 acres with 20 vineyards and produces, in addition to others, a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG.
Our tasting of the Gracciano wines was scheduled for 2PM at the family villa. As with other family-run wineries, which are found throughout Italy, we were greeted by Vannozza della Seta. The tasting was set in the original kitchen of the villa, under brick archways, where Vannozza had prepared a lovely table from which she introduced us to each of the estate’s wines. During the tasting we learned about the vineyards, her role in running the estate, the restoration of our villa (a former farmhouse renovated by Vannozza’s mother in 2000-2003), how her father came to own the estate, and the family’s daily life and work. It was a tasting of the wine and the history of the della Seta family. The narrative of the tasting established roots of connection not only with our host family but also the land we inhabited.
As we slowly wandered back to our villa, over the land we had learned so much about, we could visualize the generations of workers in the vineyards who had lovingly and sacrificially drawn out the best the soil had to offer, in the good years as well as the bad. Yes, we were deeply drinking and savoring every drop of Tuscan culture and tradition.