The Sisters of Fonterenza
In the storied hills of Montalcino, Italian twins make wine the old way—surrounded by family and guided by the phases of the moon
BY DANIELLE PERGAMENT IT’S NOT THE KIND OF PLACE where you’d expect great wines were being made. Bras and T-shirts are strewn on a clothing rack, turning dry and stiff in the relentless sun. Children’s toys and wooden bikes, temporarily forgotten, are scattered around the stone terrace. And two women, shouting to each other from somewhere in the house, are either really mad or simply Italian.
This is Campi di Fonterenza, a biodynamic winery in the Tuscan hilltop town of Montalcino. It’s also home to Francesca and Margherita Padovani, identical-twin sisters who have been making a formidable Brunello di Montalcino since 2004.
“This was our parents’ summer home,” says Francesca, who moved here from Milan with her sister almost 20 years ago. The sisters Padovani are like beautiful agrarian hipsters—thick dark hair, chiseled features, worn linen shirts, Blundstones—and their rise to winemakers (“I prefer vignaiole,” or grape growers, Francesca tells me) was unlikely. Farming didn’t run in the family— but it’s hard to have a substantial plot of land in Montalcino, even if you call it a summer home, without entertaining the idea of making wine. The women planted some vines, and with no formal training, gave it a shot.
“In the beginning, we made many mistakes,” says Margherita. “Once, during my first harvest, I pulled the wrong lever on the tractor, and instead of accelerating, I lifted the back of the tractor, which was full of grapes. I nearly lost them all. Another time, I pulled the wrong
From left: Sangiovese grapes; twin sisters Francesca (left) and Margherita Padovani.