Over 700 years and 30 generations, commitment to agriculture and viticulture has always been uppermost in the activities of the Frescobaldi family.
The Frescobaldi history begins around the year 1000, when the first members of the family moved to Florence from the Val di Pesa area, more precisely from Castillione Vallis Pesae, now called Castiglioni. After settling in the Oltrarno section of the city, they built the lodge and the tower that still stand next to the building, in the Piazza de’ Frescobaldi. Some members of the family devoted themselves to banking, and immediately joined city guilds, the guild of bankers, wool merchants, and silk weavers, all of them among the “Major Guilds”; the seven most important guilds.
1300: Berto de' Frescobaldi
The family wine history begins. Berto de’ Frescobaldi bequeaths to his children his rural properties, among them “houses, mills, vineyards, orchards, farms, scattered properties.” Wine made on those properties was exported to Flanders and England, where the Frescobaldis supplied the Court on a regular basis and were also official bankers to the Court.
The Frescobaldis devoted themselves to finance, to art, and to culture. Dino Frescobaldi, a poet of the Dolce Stil Novo school and a friend of Dante, returned to his fellow poet some sections of his Divine Comedy after Dante was condemned to exile from Florence. At the end of the century, Leonardo Frescobaldi visited the Holy Land.
1483: Far-off China
At the height of their splendour, between the 15th and 16th century, the Frescobaldi opened merchant banks not only in England and in Flanders but in the entire area of the Levant as well, from Constantinople to Damascus, and their numerous interests brought them as far as remote China. Among its activities, the family financed the expedition of Giovanni da Empoli, which went as far as Kerala, in the far south of the Indian peninsula.
In the meantime, Castello di Nipozzano had been converted from a fortress into the family residence, it became the main rural town of the surrounding countryside, and the local wines began to flow into the already well-stocked family cellars.
1517: Henry VIII
Thanks to the commerce which the family directed, the Frescobaldi wines spread well beyond the borders of the Florentine state: the family archives still preserve some parchments containing wine orders even from Henry VIII of England.
Archival documents attest to large shipments of wine that went to the popes as well, and to celebrated artists: Donatello and his workshop, and Michelozzo Michelozzi.
1685: Francesco Redi
In the pages of his 17th-century manuscript, “Bacchus in Tuscany,” Francesco Redi limns the virtues of the wines of Pomino. Following the risqué episode of the Ballo Angelico, Bartolomeo Frescobaldi was excommunicated by Pope Clement XI: during a ball at the Villa di Montecastello the guests had danced nude. To obtain forgiveness, Bartolomeo had to go to Rome on foot. He finally won exoneration by promising that he would build 40 churches in the Val di Pesa area.
The relationship of the family with the world of culture was made even more intimate by Girolamo, who was chief organist at the Este Court in Ferrara and at the Papal Court in Rome.
1714: The wines of Pomino
The wines produced in Pomino, already mentioned by Francesco Redi in the 17th century, continued their role as industry leaders in Italy into the next century. Their claim to quality was confirmed by the Gand Duke of Tuscany, when he issued a proclamation recognising Pomino as one of the four areas in Tuscany most respected for their quality wine production. The year was 1716, fully 140 years before the birth of the Bordeaux Grand Cru Classé classification system.
1855: Vittorio degli Albizzi
Marchese Vittorio degli Albizzi, an ancestor of the Frescobaldi, was born in Burgundy in the early 19th century. When he inherited the properties in Tuscany from the Florentine branch of the family, he returned to Florence. He was amazed to find, at Pomino, an environment unique for Tuscany: a mountainous area, of conifers and chestnut trees, of vineyards and olive groves, and enjoying a well-ventilated cool climate with significant temperature differences between day and night.
Fresh from his experience in Burgundy, he was among the first in Italy to propose specialised vineyard cultivation and monovarietal plantings, even at altitudes until then not used for vinegrowing. But the conditions were perfect for early-ripening grapes such as Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, which he introduced to Pomino in 1855.
1995: Luce della Vite
For the first time in Italy, two international wine producers, Marchesi de' Frescobaldi and Robert Mondavi,
took the step of combining their respective resources and winemaking talents in order to develop the most perfect expression of wine, in the best vineyards in Montalcino.
Both families totally committed themselves to crafting Italian wines of extraordinary elegance and quality, displaying an unmistakably individual style and character. With this mutual goal, and sharing the same conviction that a great wine is born in the vineyard, the Frescobaldis and the Mondavis set out to locate the finest vineyards, in Tuscany’s Montalcino area, to produce Luce della Vite wines.
In every era, the Frescobaldi have succeeded in adapting, meeting and anticipating changing conditions brought by history, and succeeding in marrying experience to innovation. For over 700 years and 30 generations, commitment to agriculture and to viticulture has always figured prominently among the activities of the Frescobaldi family.
In particular, from the end of the last millennium, the Frescobaldis have become leading figures in the quality development of viticulture throughout the world, assuming the role of the most prestigious wine producer in Tuscany.
Members of the new generation are taking over the heritage of their predecessors. Lamberto, Tiziana, Diana Frescobaldi e Stefano Benini are the cadre that have assumed the centuries-old family experience in order to guide the company toward new challenges. For the past has a future.
In 2000 Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi invested for the first time outside Tuscany by acquiring a majority stake in Conti Attems, the historic winery in the Collio. Attems comprises some 75 hectares, of which 49 are in estate vineyards. The Collio is one of Italy’s finest production areas for ultra-premium white wines. The Attems family, represented by Virginia Attems, continues as partner.
Images Marchesi Frescobaldi