Hubert Burda Media

Under the Tuscan Sun

Best known for his work with the family fashion empire, MASSIMO FERRAGAMO’s Massimo personal aspirations extend into wine and hospitality. By Lauren Tan

Even when in the urban jungle of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, Massimo Ferragamo, chairman of Ferragamo USA Inc, keeps himself abreast of the sugar levels of his grapes a continent away in the heart of southern Tuscany’s Brunello wine region.
Purchased in 2003, his property Castiglion del Bosco is one of the largest private estates in Tuscany and one of the founding members of the prestigious Brunello di Montalcino wine producers’ consortium. Its vast 1,750 hectares comprises not just rolling meadows and virgin forests of unrivalled beauty, but a winery, a 140-hectare vineyard, a Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course, vacation villas, spas, restaurants and a culinary academy.
How did you discover the estate?
My friends and I were talking about getting a place with a little winery, and then by chance, someone showed me this property. It was fascinating and beautiful. You could tell that wine was the heart of the place. We were convinced after checking out the vineyards to ensure that it was capable of making fantastic wine. The only thing was that the property was so extensive we had to execute a plan that was much bigger than originally intended.
Have you always been a wine lover?
I enjoy drinking wine and I love it, but I cannot say I’m a connoisseur. That’s why I rely on people like our fantastic winemaker Nicolo D’Afflitto and oenologist Cecilia Leoneschi. Together we discuss the directions we need to take. I’m learning a lot.
Tell us about the new winery you built.
Brunello is made according to very strict guidelines. One of which is that you have to keep it in the cellar for five years before releasing them. Because the old building wasn’t very efficient, we decided to build a new one. It’s a state-of-the-art, gravity-fed winery — so the grapes aren’t disturb too much — and we use smaller barriques in our winemaking, which is a newer way for Brunello production. I think we are one of only two wineries in Montalcino that is gravity-fed.
How involved are you during harvest season?
When I’m there, and I’m there often, I do help out. Harvesting is usually from September to October and it takes us about 3.5 weeks if the weather cooperates. Our guests love to go into the vineyards and participate in the harvest too. Even if I’m in the US, I’m in daily contact with the team who update me on the quantities, sugar levels of the grapes etc.
Do reviews and wine awards matter to you?
Of course. But I’m not going to change the way we have been doing things just because of that. By doing things right we will get some very good results. Our other winery Prima Pietra, along the Tuscan coast, just received 96 points by James Suckling, and it’s only the winery’s third release of the wine. It takes time and gradually we are getting better. I never ever get drunk, but the day we get 100 points, I will get drunk!
What’s a typical day for you when you are at Castiglion del Bosco?
I tend to wake up a little later. But my wife is a big sports person — she used to be on the Italian national ski team — so she tends to drag me out of bed to go hiking because there’s nothing better than enjoying the fresh air in the mornings. I also love to take two-to-three-hour bike rides. In the afternoons, a visit to the spa never hurts, and then the best moment of the day is around 7pm when you sit on the terrace with a glass of red wine, enjoying the evening with friends.