Strada del vino vernaccia - Wine museum

last modified Dec 09, 2013 10:01
Local association for promoting Vernaccia wine

grappoli di uva

The 'Strada del Vino Vernaccia di San Gimignano' non-profit association was founded in July, 27th 1999 in order to promote the local  wine-producing territory, as well as to improve both local wine and wine-based products and local tourist facilities.

The association especially is responsible (art.3 sub 1 of the Statute) for what is stated in L.R. 69 of 08.13.1996 "Supervision of Tuscan wine roads" and its regulation by setting up initiatives for the promotion of the "Strada del Vino Vernaccia di San Gimignano".

The regional law, periodically modified, stated "wine roads" as:

  • routes in territories with a high concentration of wine productions, thus featuring vineyard, wine cellars, farms, places having particular naturalistic, cultural, and historical values related to wine tourism.
  • promotional instrument for rural development in order to support wine tourism.

The town of San Gimignano and many other firms, businesses, associations, wine shops, and other corporations, are part of this association; San Gimignano is also part of the administrative committee.

The Association is presently in charge of managing the Wine Museum in Villa della Rocca; it also takes care of organizing events consisting in wine tasting, special nights in the Wine Museum, and the national fair for celebrating the Association's anniversary.

Sarah Fioroni in currently the President of the Association.

Seat

Villa della Rocca, in the Wine Museum

  • 0577 940008 (Local tourist board)
  • 0577 941267 (Wine Museum)

Visit the Consortium of San Gimignano Designation website.

The San Gimignano's Vernaccia

vernaccia

A straw yellow wine, with golden glares getting stronger as it ages. Its scent is delicate with a fruity and floral aromas. As it gets aged it develops its typical flint-like smell. This wine tastes dry, harmonious, full-bodied, with a characteristic final taste of almond.

The San Gimignano's Vernaccia is enjoyable when young, but it gives its best as it gets aged, when it develops many complex scents and tastes. This is one of the very few white wines to be produced also as reserve wine.

The San Gimignano's Vernaccia is extremely good when enjoyed along fish-based dishes, even extraordinary along white meat.

Historical overview

The Vernaccia is one of the oldest indigenous vine variety in Italy, and its history is one with the history of San Gimignano: once important in Medieval times, it declined along with the town till the second half of the 2oth century, when it was renewed and became a successful wine once again.
The vine variety was probably brought from Liguria in the 1200s A.D. by Vieri de’ Bardi, but the origin is unknown. Others trace back its name to the Latin word "vernaculum", which means 'indigenous', 'local', in order to label this and other products as typical of a given area. This may also explain why the same name 'Vernaccia' is used for other vine varieties, too, as the ones of Oristano and Serrapetrona.
Documentary researches date back the Vernaccia to the early 1200 AD: a decree of the Town of San Gimignano from 1276 taxed the selling of the Vernaccia outside the town's territory, which is a clear hint of the fame of this wine.
The Vernaccia is also mentioned in many literary productions, the most famous one being in the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri: Pope Martin IV is in Purgatory atoning for his gluttony, since he loved eels with Vernaccia: “….ebbe la Santa Chiesa e le sue braccia: dal Torso fu, e purga per digiuno le anguille di Bolsena e la Vernaccia….”, Purgatory, Cantica XXIV.
Michelangelo Buonarroti 'the young' gives us a description of the Vernaccia as it was back then, that is, quite different from the present one: sweet, but also tannic and astringent.
Sante Lacerio, Pope Paul III's vintner, wrote his opinion as an expert in a letter in 1541 AD: after asking the Town of San Gimignano for 80 flasks of Vernaccia, he complains about the low production of such a tasteful and excellent wine.
But after its glorious medieval times, the Vernaccia wine disappear. Its revival starts after World War II thanks to some winemakers who rediscover the Vernaccia and take it to the "Controlled designation of origin" quality assurance (DOC) in 1966, being the first italian wine ever to get this label. The Vernaccia of San Gimignano also obtained the DOCG quality assurance in 1993.

The Vernaccia of San Gimignano today

Production

The vernaccia vineyards cover 768 hectares (November 2009) on a area between 250 and 400 meters above the relative sea level; the terrain, characterized by yellow sands and sandy clay, of Pliocenic origin, is responsible of the richness of the wine. The climate of the area is the typical Tuscanian one: main rains from April/May to November, temperatures between -5°C and +37°C.
There are a total of 177 winemakers of Vernaccia over 768 hectares, for a potential production of 6.9 million kilograms of grapes, that is about 4.8 million liters of wine every year. In 2009 5.5 million kilograms of grapes were produced, that is 3.8 million liters of wine (5.1 million bottles).

Markets

The main market for the Vernaccia is Italy, where about 60% of all the bottles are sold (20% in the sole San Gimignano area). The remaining 40% goes abroad, mainly in Germany (40%) and USA (35%). Other important importers are Japan, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, and Switzerland.