Elegance, Balance, Complexity…Cecchi Family Estates Maintains Respect for the Land While Bottling the Essence of Italian Winemaking Country

There’s a tangible way to experience the renowned essence of central Italy’s stunning countryside: Simply open a bottle of Cecchi Family Estates wine, pour a glass and allow the terroir, history and tradition of the land to reveal itself. “All the care from the beginning that we put in must emphasize where the grape came from and the characteristics of the vineyard,” says Cecchi Family Estates CEO and Head Winemaker Andrea Cecchi. “This is our goal.”

The Cecchi story began in Tuscany in 1893, when Andrea’s great-grandfather Luigi Cecchi established his own wine- making business after working as a professional wine taster at various commercial vineyards. In the years and decades that followed, the Cecchi business and its reputation for quality viticulture flourished.

The first expansion of Cecchi Family Estates came in the 1930s when Luigi acquired Villa Cerna, an ancient monastery in the Chianti Classico region. The Cecchis went on to acquire additional estates that dot the rolling hills of Tuscany: Castello Montaùto at San Gimignano; Val delle Rose, where the Cecchi family’s innovative winemaking practices sparked a small revolution in improved agricultural and wine-aging techniques; the historic Castellina in Chianti, a site where the family produces its renowned Chianti Classico; and Tenuta Alzatura in Umbria, which lies outside of Tuscan borders.

Today, Cecchi Family Estates continues to operate as a true family business, run by Andrea and his brother Cesare, along with their mother Anita. It is recognized worldwide for its rich winemaking history, quality products and prominence among Tuscan wine producers. Andrea and Cesare represent the fourth generation of Cecchis to lead the company. Throughout his life, Andrea Cecchi’s desire to make wine has never wavered. “It is easy to fall in love with winemaking,” he says. “Especially if you were born in the heart of Tuscany and raised in a wine family.”

He recalls walking through Cecchi vineyards as a child, breathing in the perfume of the soil, vines and grapes while “learning [the] values and differences of each season,” and absorbing “the passion, focus and persistency” of his family and their coworkers.“These,” he says, “are the most important values that led me to fall in love with the wine industry.”

Andrea went on to pursue a formal education in wine- making, earning a degree in agriculture from the University of Agraria in Florence, and later in Milan, a master’s degree in winemaking. (His graduate thesis explored the role of cork in modern winemaking.) Andrea’s passion for winemaking is all-encompassing — he believes in the importance of honoring tradition, but also likes to dig into the technical aspects of producing wine, intertwining time-honored methods with innovation and staying abreast of new approaches and technologies related to farming and winemaking.

“Since the late ‘80s we’ve had a big revolution in approach and techniques from the vineyard to the cellar,” Cecchi says. “We embraced this kind of innovation like few other families in Tuscany. It was a big challenge but was a priority — where we could improve our quality and dedicate attention to improve our future based on a better understanding of the climate, the best soil, the increasing variety of grapes to work with and more.” Though it can be unpredictable, he looks forward to the challenges that come with producing quality wine. “Each year is different,” he says. “Each vintage has a different character. There is discovery every year, and you have to learn and think.”

Above all, he never loses sight of the Cecchi priority to safeguard and nurture the environment. Whether using age-old techniques or state-of-the-art methods, he says,“we have to protect

the characteristics of the different terroirs” at every Cecchi estate. “We maintain tradition by producing native varietals of Tuscany, but use innovative winemaking techniques to highlight the area’s land and overall environment.” And what a gorgeous land it is. Located in the heart of Italy, Tuscany and Umbria feature a beautiful landscape, historic cities and towns such as Florence and Siena, and bragging rights as the home of cultural icons including Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. With its countryside, beaches, ideal weather and locals who take the time to achieve “the incredible balance of food, wine and lifestyle,” Cecchi says the region is tough to beat.

Even with a great affection for his home- land, the winemaker relishes the time he spends in New Hampshire. After first traveling to the Granite State more than 15 years ago, he continues to visit at least once or twice a year. “I love New Hampshire thanks to the passion of its people and its wonderful landscape,” he says. “The color of the woods is particularly beautiful.” When he is able to visit New Hampshire in autumn, he finds the foliage so emotionally moving “it makes me cry.” New Hampshire “is unique,” he notes, and “people from all over the world come to see it.” And because Andrea hails from the countryside, he feels at home surrounded by New Hampshire’s natural beauty.

The Cecchi family’s appreciation for the natural world provides a strong foundation for its sustainability initiatives. In the early ‘90s, Cecchi Family Estates was the first business in Tuscany to build an innovative wastewater treatment facility to minimize energy and water consumption. After being updated in 2012, the facility was recognized for its excellence with the Eco-Efficient Tuscany prize. For the Cecchis, it’s all in a day’s work; they consider themselves stewards of the environment and believe that anyone who works in the agricultural field shares a duty to protect and respect the land and natural resources. “I believe that as a producer, I have to be respectful towards natural resources and farmlands,” Cecchi says. “In 2021 we will achieve Organic Certification for all wines growing in Tenuta Alzatura in Umbria and Val Delle Rose in Maremma.” Indeed, when asked to name an aspect of the winemaking process that has remained unchanged since the original Cecchi winery was founded, Andrea cites “the respect of the grapes that grow in each vineyard.”

“Honestly, we are not a corporation,” he says. “We are a family that is many, many years involved in winemaking, and my family and our relationships with our coworkers are very, very important. Since I was a child, all of the people I saw working together with my father and with my mother were giving me an impression. I could mention many, many names of people who set a good example.” The united effort at Cecchi Family Estates is evident in their products.

“For many, many years, we’ve produced wine that represents the characteristics of the region, wines with a nice elegance and balance and complexity,” he says. “We never change our philosophy and that’s why all the wines have their own characteristics.” And because Cecchi wines are food- friendly, you can’t go wrong serving a bottle or two with meals.

“We don’t want to produce wines that taste heavy and are high in alcohol,” Cecchi says. “We love to have wine that can be enjoyable with food.” Not only is the quality present in every glass, each sip is imbued with authentic Tuscan terroir, creating a direct line to Italian winemaking country. In true Italian style, enjoy it with family, friends and food. Fantastico!


Written for Celebrate magazine.