By Stephanie Amberg
Photography by Stephanie Amberg
When my travel companions and I included the Il Borro winery as a stop along our trip through Italy, I expected the typical wine experience similar to the ones that I’ve enjoyed in Napa, Oregon and the Loire Valley in France….vineyards, barrels, tanks, bottling machinery, and wine tasting rooms….the usual. Albeit situated within the intoxicating landscape of Tuscany. So, imagine the wonderment that captured our very souls as we began to explore our historical surroundings. I can vividly remember the exclamation of sheer delight as my eyes caught the first glimpse of the Medieval Village that dates back to 1090. We immediately recognized the familiar image, come to life, that we knew all know so well as depicted on the ever so delicate line drawing on the label of Il Borro wine bottles. The story behind the El Borro estate is a fascinating account of the rich history of Italian families bridging many generations and living rural traditions. Today, the estate is owned by the Ferragamo family that founded one of Italy’s most respected and world renowned fashion design houses. While Ferragamo shoes, accessories and clothing adorn the pages of glossy high-fashion magazines, we came to know the family in an entirely different context.
The Il Borro estate and winery, which includes the medieval hamlet, is managed by Salvatore Ferragamo, grandson of the famed patriarch. While touring the winery and grounds with him, we quickly recognized his passion for his heritage and genuine love for the culture and natural surroundings that are the very essence of Il Borro. He has dedicated his life to an ambitious and impressive re-organization project for the estate which has included the restoration of existing buildings and the upgrade of the wine production. As Salvatore looks to the future, he is intent on building an agritourism destination beyond compare.
The expansive Il Borro Estate is located amidst the Tuscan hills on a fertile plain at the foot of the “bastion” of Pratamagno. Complete with horse stables, a private landing strip, vineyards, olive trees, a restored villa that was destroyed during World War II, farmhouse residences (also available for rent) and even a golf driving range, the beautiful countryside is home to 40 hectares of vineyards growing Tuscan and French grapes. One enters the Il Borro estate through a regal entrance of beautiful iron gates that open onto a long, tranquil drive lined with trees and pastures where majestic thoroughbreds graze. The winery sits proudly in the center of the Estate. While it houses modern state-of-the-art equipment, the original winery preserves the humble beginnings of wine production. The renowned expert oenologist, Niccolo d’Afflitto, has assisted the Ferragamo family with the advancement and modernization of the viticulture that has become well renowned around the world since the winery’s renaissance began in 1995. The estate’s flagship wine, is proudly named Il Borro, while the other wines’ names actually reflect the names of the farmhouses located throughout the grounds.
Our travel party of three stayed in the Medieval Village that is nestled below the hill where a castle once stood, and today is a collection of 17 dwellings. As we climbed the long, curved narrow stone path that once served as the main road to the ancient hamlet, we imagined life as it once was. Tucked away behind the main stone path was our “home” which was comprised of two bedrooms, a large bathroom with a shower and bath, an expansive living room complete with a working fireplace and a kitchen equipped with modern appliances including a dishwasher , washer and dryer.
During our daily walks and exploration of the grounds, we were mesmerized by the wealth and breadth of the history within the breathtaking views that surrounded us. There were flowers to behold from every angle; and the sounds of nature, especially the calls of wild peacocks, filled our souls. On one rainy evening, we chose to cook “at home.” A quick trip to the local market provided us with an abundance of local vegetables, fresh porcini, fennel and farm eggs. We managed to create a tantalizing 3-course meal that we enjoyed in the warmth of our historic dwelling. It was quite the feast. — paired, of course, with fabulous wine.
Our quarters had many windows, all of which we flung open to capture the fresh clean air of the magnificent rolling Tuscan hills. Day or night, our “home” was filled with gentle breezes. Below the beautiful Village, there rests a quiet culinary oasis, the Osteria del Borro. We actually enjoyed three wonderful meals there – each abundant with fresh produce and local ingredients. The culinary expertise was absolutely delightful as it showcased all that the bountiful farmlands surrounding us had to offer. Beyond the main stay of our host’s Il Borro wines, we enjoyed exploring the exceptional wine list selections.
Needless to say, it was very difficult to leave the world that we found at Il Borro. In all my travels throughout Europe, I can honestly say that nothing has touched my soul as powerfully as Il Borro has.
How to get there:
In Tuscany, Italy. About a 20-minute train ride out of Florence, depart in Montevarci.
Close by: Sienna where the famed Il Paolo Horse races takes place each year at the end of July