With its own very specific pedoclimatic features and cultivation conditions, Panzano in Chianti is certainly very popular among wine lovers for its numerous and renowned organic wineries. Panzano is home to vineyards generally located between 350 and 450 meters above sea level, with rare exceptions 500 and above. This, as well as other myriad of environmental and cultural influences, have had an impact in the growing of grapes and of the wine making. Sangiovese is for Panzano in Chianti the most important grape, as well as the real soul of Chianti Classico.
The Unione Viticoltori of Panzano in Chianti
Over the past 20 years a group of local winemakers – also known as Unione Viticoltori (Wine Producers Organization) – have united. They share their passion for wine and sustainable farming, respect for nature and the environment. Today this organization has 20 member wineries: Candialle, Casaloste, Castello dei Rampolla, Cennatoio, Fattoria La Quercia, Fattoria Rignana, Fontodi, Il Molino di Grace, Il Palagio, L’Orcio a Ca’ di Pesa, La Massa, Le Cinciole, Le Fonti, Monte Bernardi, Panzanello, Renzo Marinai, Tenuta degli Dei, Vecchie Terre di Montefili, Vignole and Villa Cafaggio.
The Unione Viticoltori of Panzano in Chianti helped local Chianti Classico wine producers team up to promote their organic products. Thanks to the Unione’s hard work, Panzano in Chianti was certified in 2012 as the first organic wine area, according to nationally recognized organic wine rules. Indeed, nearly 90 per cent of its vineyards are sustainable and grow according to organic and biodynamic principles.
Panzano’s Wine Festival
One of the Organization’s main events and activities is certainly the Panzano’s Wine Festival. It is known as “Vino al Vino”, which conveys as “Wine to Wine”. Such an event takes place every year in the middle of September. Local wine producers have a chance to showcase their produce right in the main square of Panzano in Chianti. Attendees can sample as many different types of wine as they wish. You can drink while meandering from stand to stand and learning about Tuscany’s most celebrated wineries.
Here they can chat with some of the most famous Chianti Classico’s winemakers, as well as the novice ones. All topped up with live music, concerts, art shows, and other entertainment. Smaller in size compared to other wine festivals in the Chianti area, it makes it more manageable as it is certainly easier to navigate, as queues are shorter and one can enjoy a more intimate feel.
The town of Panzano in Chianti
Sitting on a hilltop, Panzano in Chianti is a scenic gem, nearby olive groves, vineyards and rolling hills. Small and pristine, this authentic Tuscan hamlet is located on the picturesque Via Chiantigiana, halfway between Florence and Sienna. Modern in appearance, but ancient in foundation with medieval origins, is one of the many attractions in the Chianti area.
During 13th and 15th centuries both Sienna and Florence tried to enlarge their territory. Many were the battles fought between the two cities in the area where Panzano in Chianti is located. For this reason, this charming Tuscan hilltop town was destroyed and rebuilt after each battle and was alternately under the Sienese and Florentine rule.
The medieval town
The remain of this ancient medieval settlement is the bell tower. It is now part of the Santa Maria Assunta church in Panzano Alto – where there are still part of the medieval walls. The exterior of the church is beautiful although it was completely rebuilt in the 19th century on top of the medieval building. It boasts a stone stairway which is an excellent setting for taking photos and wonderful views looking across the valley. What used to be the castle is now houses and apartments.
Throughout Panzano Alto are shallow doorways in rustic brickwork almost around every corner. As one walks the charming streets, it feels as if one is back into ancient times. The peculiar paved road joins the two parts of what used to be the castle and hosts many little artwork shops all run by local artisans.
These days, Panzano in Chianti has slowly outgrown the limitations of its original city walls. Today new houses and buildings cascade down the hill right below the ancient city walls. The town has a pretty laid-back vibe is also famous for its butchers. Many outdoor restaurants and cafes have found their home on the main square, Piazza Bucciarelli. There one can buy or sample interesting local speciality.