If you are interested in wine in Panzano in Chianti, it is hard to miss the „Unione Viticoltori di Panzano“. This is the association of the winegrowers of Panzano, which organises the annual „Vino al Vino“ wine festival in the Piazza of Panzano in Chianti, famous far beyond the borders of the country. And it was also Unione that made a significant contribution to making Panzano the first organic district in Italy. Moreover, no one less than Cosimo Gericke, owner of the Fattoria di Rignana and at the same time a dear friend of mine, has recently become the new president of the ‚Unione di Viticoltiori di Panzano‘.
1995: The year in which the success story began…
Since the Panzano winegrowers decided to create the „Unione Viticoltori di Panzano“ in 1995, more than two decades have passed in the hilly Chianti Classico, and the trigger for this association – which initially included other agricultural producers – was a very simple but at the same time very important one: they wanted to organize a joint festival where only wines and local products could be tasted and promoted. In the course of the preparatory work for the festival, regular meetings were held in the following years. And the winemakers did not only talk about the upcoming event, but also exchanged wine knowledge and experiences. Friendships were made, people moved closer together. The producers began to develop more and more joint projects. And finally, they officially joined together to form the „Unione Viticoltori di Panzano“. Currently there are 22 wineries represented in the Unione. A winery may only become a member if the grapes, the winery and the bottling are in Panzano. Since the beginning of August this year Cosimo Gericke – with whom I have worked closely and amicably for many years and whose wines of the Fattoria di Rignana can of course be found in my shop – is president of the Unione. Over the next three years his task will be to represent the interests of the winegrowers of Panzano to the outside world and, of course, to make the excellent wines of the town known beyond the borders of the country.
Panzano Sostenibile: More sustainability = intact nature = more quality
From the very beginning, one of the Unione’s objectives has been to improve the quality of its wines. The best possible means to this end, it was gradually agreed, was sustainable and above all organic viticulture. This is also how the „Panzano Sostenibile“ project – i.e. sustainable Panzano – was initiated by the winegrowers with the agronomist Ruggero Mazzilli, the which is fully and completely dedicated to organic farming, was established in 2005. And it has truly fallen on „fertile ground“: Today, sustainable thinking and management is firmly anchored in the minds of winegrowers. The majority of the wineries are certified organic. Some even go one step further and work biodynamically. The changeover to „organic“ is supported by the specially founded company „Stazione Sperimentale per la Viticoltura“ – SPEVIS for short – with technical means, advice and practical support. More than 90 percent of Panzano’s vineyards – that’s around 500 hectares – are now organically certified, and more than ever before, winegrowers are convinced that sustainable thinking and action in the long term both protects and conserves natural resources and ensures even better quality wines. And there is another wonderful, positive organic side effect that reveals itself when I walk through the vineyards: you can once again see countless fireflies and butterflies dancing through the air of Panzano!
Vino al Vino – an autumnal cheer for the winemakers of Panzano!
Without a doubt, the annual „Vino al Vino“ wine festival in the Piazza of Panzano in Chianti is one of the highlights of the wine year. Every year the Unione winegrowers organise this event on the third weekend in September – this year from 12 to 15 September 2019, next year from 17 to 20 September 2020, and anyone who wants to keep up to date on „Vino al Vino“ should follow the wine festival on Facebook. The „entrance fee“ for this festival is paid by buying a Vino-al-Vino glass directly on the piazza. With this glass you can taste the wines of the Unione winegrowers over a total of four days – including many well-known and excellent wines. Recently, the Wall Street Journal named this family gathering of Panzano’s wineries one of the „Top Five“ wine festivals in the world! So let’s go!