3 May 2021
In Conversation with Coralia Pignatelli della Leonessa
with Inspiring Women in Wine
Princess Coralia Pignatelli della Leonessa is the winemaker and owner at Castell’in Villa in Chianti. Her life reads like a novel; born a Greek princess, educated in Switzerland and the widow of an Italian diplomate, the love of her life. As a true Italian, her husband had the vision to own a vineyard and make wine. Together they bought a picturesque estate, a former military outpost of Siena in the middle ages, which needed a huge amount of work. It was not an easy time to be a winemaker, and with little demand for Italian wines, most people were leaving the Tuscan countryside. Soon after they purchased the estate, her husband passed away and, though momentarily tempted to leave Italy for her beloved Switzerland, she decided to fulfil her husband’s dream. In the process, Coralia became a passionate winemaker with a simple philosophy – she makes wine that she likes, irrespective of commercial fads and with as little intervention as possible. She is not afraid of hard work and fought the local legislators to be allowed to make Chianti with 100% Sangiovese (as is today common with all top Chianti producers) and only releases her wines when she thinks they are ready. This elegant, feisty lady prefers her winery vats to critics and eschews interviews. We are honoured she took the time to answer our questions for our monthly blog with inspiring women in wine.
- What was your earliest wine moment?
After 25 years of age.
- What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a winemaker?
Weather conditions and the new challenges that we are facing due to climate change.
- Who has had the greatest influence on your winemaking career?
Dr Giacomo Tachis.
- With all your experience running two wineries at opposite sides of the world… regardless of cost, what makes a great wine?
- Do you have a fact, historical or otherwise, about Castell’in Villa that you wished everyone knew?
That it is a place of beauty, harmony and love.
- What is the first question you ask another winemaker when you visit them, and why?
What they are doing in the vineyards and winery.
- I am sure you have drunk many memorable bottles, but which bottle inspired you to do something different and why?
- We have had a tough year behind us. What was your favourite lockdown bottle?
- Finally, what advice would you give your younger self?
To continue to love and take care of nature.