Italian vintner Francesco Bolla, who left the Verona-based Bolla wine company early this year after American drinks giant Brown-Forman Corp. took total ownership of the once family-run firm, has invested nearly $700,000 to produce a premium Tuscan red from the coastal Maremma region.
"This is not just a whimsical hobby, it is also a business investment," said Bolla, who added that he paid $6,000 per acre for the Maremma property. "After having looked around Verona, in the north of Italy, where it is difficult to find a property, I turned to Tuscany, which is an area with a high profile for winemaking and where it is still possible to find a good-size [piece of land]."
Bolla's new estate, called Podere Pianverrano, is a 111-acre farm that currently grows olives and sunflowers. Bolla is preparing to plant 60 acres of vines within the next two years: 30 acres of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah by spring 2001 and another 30 acres by spring 2002.
"Podere Pianverrano is only seven miles from the coast, therefore it has a mild Mediterranean climate, influenced by the sea air," said Bolla. "I see this area as a new frontier for winemaking, still to be discovered, still with potential."
With the assistance of Carlo Ferrini, a well-known consulting enologist from Tuscany, Bolla intends to make a single premium red wine, called Poggio Verrano. Initial production will be about 10,000 cases.
Bolla also plans to build a winery and cellar, as well as tasting room and visitor area. "I am thinking of building a belvedere for visitors at the top of the property, which has a 360 degree view, stretching as far as the coast," he said.
Check out recent ratings of Bolla wines.