#Toscana,  #Tuscany,  #wine #winetasting,  #wininghourchat,  Taste and Talk

Taste & Talk: Women in Wine with Montemaggio

The Month of March is Woman’s History Month. While the whole month is dedicated to women, we also celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th, which kicks off Women’s Week. INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality. This year, in honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, #WiningHourChat decided to feature Fattoria di Montemagggio.

Valeria Zavadnikova
(Owner of Fattoria di Montemaggio)

Fattoria di Montemaggio is located in Radda in Chianti, Tuscany, nestled in Chianti Classico, between Siena and Florence.  Monte Maggio, or big mountain, refers to its elevated position, as the estate is situated on a site where there was once a 14th century tower dating back to 1560.

Fattoria di Montemaggio was our pick because the winery is women-owned and operated, as both the owner and agronomist are WOMEN!!! I also happen to love them!!! Love affair aside, Montemaggio is awesome for so many reasons. Therefore, #WiningHourChat got together with Valeria Zavadnikova (owner) to discuss a few of these reasons, challenges she’s faced as a woman in the wine industry and her new line of skincare products. We also wanted to see how Montemaggio has been impacted by the pandemic.

Pictured here: Valeria (Owner), Ilaria (Agronomist) and Me (The Wine Taster)

Here’s an overview of our vinous conversation:

#WiningHourChat: How have you guys been coping with the pandemic?  Have you been open for tastings and tours? How are sales? 

Fattoria di Montemaggio: The pandemic has been hard for everyone here. We lost about 60% of our normal income last year but tried to recuperate in some other ways. We are lucky though because our website works well. The online sales helped us to survive when most other sales channels dried up almost completely last year. We also had to reduce the yield for last year’s harvest in line with the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico guidelines. Additionally, our social media activity has been crucial for several years now and has played big part of our marketing strategy. During the pandemic and now, we have increased our digital side even more…Have you perhaps seen any of our content and activities on social media?

#WiningHourChat: Yes! I have definitely seen your social media activity. It’s been consistent and refreshing. I can only imagine how hard it must have been during the pandemic and shutdowns. You have to practically revamp everything to try to stay afloat. However, we’re SO happy you’re still maintaining!!!!
It is quite evident that social media has become the lifeblood for people over the last year. In fact, technology and virtual events are how many were able to sustain. In fact, you sent #WiningHourChat some videos for this chat, and they are an awesome way to interact with you and learn more about Montemaggio despite the distance and time zones!  It’s nice to have at least this option, as some wineries do not/did not have a social media presence at all, and then there’s the endless travel restrictions. #WiningHourChat

Valeria, for those who are not familiar, please tell us a little about Montemaggio…it’s history, location, soil, etc.

Fattoria di Montemaggio: We are a family-owned winery in the heart of Tuscany focusing on organic farming. Last year, we also launched our #skincare line. We are at a high altitude in Radda, which gives elegance and minerality to the wines. We love to teach our visitors or anyone who is interested in organic agriculture and what we do here at Montemaggio.
See the video below, as Valeria elaborates about her winery:

Valeria, speaking about Montemaggio

#WiningHourChat: As a woman-owned and operated winery, what are some challenges you have faced over the years? 

Fattoria di Montemaggio: A lot has changed during the last 14 years. However, the agricultural sector is hard on its own, it is not always a matter of gender. Owning a winery is challenging in itself…you have lots of things to consider such as the effects of global warming and climate change, etc. So, it has not been so much about being a woman or not. See the video below, as Valeria talks about her view on women and their presence in the Italian wine business.

Valeria, Speaking About Women in the Wine Industry
Fattoria di Montemaggio Wine label of an Etruscan woman, symbolizing the strength of women and highlights women as wine growers or viticulturists

#WiningHourChat: Given your location in Radda in Chianti, we know you produce fine Chianti Classico. What other wine varietals do you produce?

Fattoria di Montemaggio: We are in the #ChiantiClassico area in Tuscany and Sangiovese is, of course, the grape that is king here. We do grow other native and some international grapes too. We had planned to have released 2 new wines but #covid put a temporary stop to that. We also have cleaned out a new plot to soon plant more…? Can you guess? A native Tuscan grape with a rich, fruity, and buttery taste.
Learn more about their varietals in the video below…

Valeria discusses the varietals at Montemaggio

#WiningHourChat: Hmmm. Could it be Pugnitello? Although your Chianti Classico Riserva and Torre di Montemaggio are my all time favorites, tonight I decided to sip Montemaggio Chianti Classico. It has a vibrant ruby appearance, with a floral bouquet of marjoram and potpourri. There’s delicate cherry, strawberry and clove. Good acidity. I paired it with pizza…and I was in heaven!

#WiningHourChat: Interestingly, Montemaggio also produces a line of skin care products. What guided that decision? Is there a certain ingredient(s) that makes it such a good product? 

Fattoria di Montemaggio: Regarding the skincare, I came up with that project already some year ago before the pandemic. I have always been very passionate about organic farming, sustainability, a healthy lifestyle, etc. Continuing on the organic path, we also do our own composting…and I drive Ilaria, our agronomist and estate manager, insane sometimes with the composting! LOL I was working on figuring out how to not just throw away the waste material. We use the residual seeds and skins in the production of our skincare creams.
Therefore, the skincare creams are made with, among other things, stem cells from red grapes, essential oils, and vegetable granules. Our skincare creams have an anti-aging and an antioxidant effect, among other things. We are still working on perfecting the formula…Read more on our blog  buff.ly/2Aisjp7
Red grapes and red wine is not only great to drink. Red grapes are also good for the skin.

Listen to Valeria explain below:

Valeria on wine

#WiningHourChat: I must say…having tried your skincare line, it feels smells and feels like heaven! My skin feels hydrated and nourished. Lovely! I’ve also had the pleasure of visiting your winery several times, and I always marvel at your vineyards, the gardens and all of the effort you put into natural, organic viticulture, sustainability and biodiversity. The flora, fauna, fruit, vegetables, and everything is just so inspiring! I also think that a line of skin care products was both a smart and awesome move! Not only is it innovative, but it is also an excellent addition to your organic brand.

#WiningHourChat: Any new projects in the works for Montemaggio?

Fattoria di Montemaggio: When it comes to the future, we hope to be able to complete those projects I mentioned earlier, as soon as possible. For ex., the 2 new wine labels…The nearest future will still be difficult, as the partial lockdowns are continuing. So, it is hard to make any plans. However, we do hope to soon get back to realizing all our projects…also the planting of new Pugnitello vines… 

#WiningHourChat: That is definitely understandable. It is difficult for anyone to make plans, given the volatility of everything these days. However, I look forward to returning as soon as possible, and I am sure you will continue to do good things. I can’t wait to return to Montemaggio and to Italia in general!!!

Celebrating Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day with Montemaggio was a fantastic, fun and fitting choice! To read more about Montemaggio, check out: The Marvels of Montemaggio

Planted, harvested and aged in NY. I have a background in education and marketing, with a love and passion for travel...and all things wine. In addition to writing about wine, I also maintain an online wine boutique (thewininghour.com) that caters to the winelover, as well as the weekly vinous winechat (#WiningHourChat) on Twitter (see page for more info).

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