One-On-One With Villa Mangiacane Managing Director In Chianti Classico Wine Region, Graziano Santoro

villa mangiacane

Villa Mangiacane is one of those unique places that you immediately feel like you’ve stumbled upon something special with the first step through its gates. Located in the winemaking region of Chianti Classico—which is surprisingly only a 20-to-30 minute drive from the hustling and bustling city of Florence—the property was built by the famed Machiavelli family in the 15th century and its 600 acres also houses expansive vineyards and olive groves, producing its own award-winning wines and fragrant extra virgin olive oils. There are two choices for stays at the Small Luxury Hotels of the World property, both of which offer their own, distinctive experiences: Palazzo Machiavelli and Villa Mazzei. The main Palazzo Machiavelli building includes original Renaissance art and terraces with impressive Tuscan views, while guests may enjoy an infinity pool and bar, gorgeous gardens and views of Chianti from the second building, Villa Mazzei. An extensive art collection is prominently featured throughout the internal and external areas of the property, while the onsite restaurant offers delectable Tuscan specialties. Last year, Haute Living had the pleasure of meeting Villa Mangiacane and getting acquainted with the Tuscan property; this year, we returned for our second trip, becoming even more familiar with its grounds and its people, namely its former winemaker an current Managing Director, Graziano Santoro, with whom we chatted over a gorgeous lunch at the restaurant, coupled with a mouth-watering wine pairing.

villa mangiacane

What’s the best time to visit Villa Mangiacane?

The place is amazing. For me also, when I stay in the lodge, it’s so nice. You can’t beat the views. Usually May and September are the best times to come if you want to avoid the 40-degree weather.

How does the weather affect the wines, if at all?

It doesn’t affect the wines too much. The most important thing is to have sun between June and August to allow the grapes to ripen in the proper way. In spring time, it’s okay if it rains a little bit, but not too much. The problem with too much rain is that it gives the possibility to have mold or insects that attack the vines. But we have several treatments to protect them. 2014 was very bad because it was raining for the entire summer, from April until August.

You started here as the Winemaker and now you are the Managing Director. Tell us about that journey.

Yes, I was managing the farm. I have a background in wine and hospitality, so it’s a good mix. I was working in wineries in Chianti, but I moved to Florence for my wife and since I spoke German, English and spanish as well, it was easy to find a job in hospitality. I think that when there is a long and interesting history like here at Villa Mangiacane, it is also more interesting for the guests as they get to learn about the property where they are staying.

villa mangiacane

Tell us about the different wines on the property.

The grapes are San Giovese and mostly here, we produce San Giovese [based wines]. We have three types of Merlot to produce our Super Tuscan and a little bit of white, but on our 600 acres [of land], 80-percent [of the grapes] are red. In Tuscany, the most important red wines are made with San Giovese [grapes]: Brunello, Nobile de Montepulciano, Moraldino, etc. These are all San Giovese; of course [there are] different types, but all based on San Giovese. If you see the bunches here compared to Montalcino, they are very different. In Montalcino, the wines are more tannic and require a longer time in barrels—five years. The [grape] skins are very thick. You find tannins in the skin and in the seeds of the grapes. Here [they are] smaller, more compact. There are three categories: the basic Chianti Classico, Riserva and Gran Selezione. The Gran Selezione has three years of aging in wooden barrels and was introduced five years ago to compete with Brunello di Montalcino. It takes three years [of aging in wooden barrels] for Rosso di Montalcino, one year for Chianti Classico, two years for Riserva and for Gran Selezione, it’s three.

villa mangiacane

What are some of the highlights in this area and the surrounding area?

The main thing is that you can enjoy the countryside in a relaxed, private setting. At the same time, Florence is just 15 minutes away from us. All the land around us is our property for our guests to enjoy. The third very important point—especially in the Villa—is that you have a feeling that you’re staying at home, not at a hotel. It feels like your luxury home. We’re also working to double all the facilities, with multiple pools, the wellness facility, etc. We’re also creating an outdoor eco-gym/fitness area that’s ecologically friendly. Three years ago we installed the Tesla chargers, so I wanted to continue down that path to install more environmentally-friendly projects. Of course, it is also a beautiful space for a lot of people to come celebrate their weddings as well.

For more information or to book your stay, please call the property at +39 055 829 0123 or visit its website by clicking here.

Villa Mangiacane
Via Faltignano 4
San Casciano VP, 50026
Florence, Tuscany, Italy