Antinori Family of Florence: 600 Years of Winemaking


I can’t remember the last time I watched “60 Minutes,” but the other night the husband happened to be watching it when I got home – and I’m glad he was. Morley Safer profiled the Antinori family, wine-makers based in Tuscany and Umbria who stand out from the countless Italian wine-makers for two reasons. First, the family has been making great Italian wine for 26 generations, dating back to 1385. Second, for the first time in the company’s history, the people who are poised to take over the family business are women.

The Antinori head honcho is still the patriarch of the family, the Marchese Piero Antinori, but because he had no sons, his three daughters are next in line to take over this incredible family enterprise. Prior to the introduction of these three women, the long and storied history of Antinori wine production was entirely male. In fact, there are few (if any) references to women in any of the many historic documents the Marchese has in his office. The Antinori daughters are unfazed by this, and all three of them have been hands-on in the company for years already.

One thing that particularly caught my attention in the “60 Minutes” story is when the Marchese brought Safer to central Florence to show him a tiny arched window in an otherwise plain wall. Underneath the arch was carved the word “VINO,” and a little wooden door filled the arched space. The Marchese explained that up until about 200 years ago, people in Florence would knock on that little door and an Antinori wine seller on the other side would open it, take payment, and hand over a bottle of wine. I not only desperately want to know where this wine window is, I also need to know what’s on the other side nowadays.

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>> I recently found a story on Italian Notebook which indicates that there are little doors like this all over Florence! I’m even more excited about these little “faerie doors” now.

Here’s the “60 Minutes” story in words, if you want to read it, or you can watch the whole 12+ minute program:


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And if you know the whereabouts of that little wine window, or anything about the building it’s in and what’s inside these days, please let me know!


6 thoughts on “Antinori Family of Florence: 600 Years of Winemaking

  • jeanne ranieri

    hi there
    looking for help-my late husband lived in florence(for a time) with the antinori family.he attended gonzaga university . it was there he shared with us that he learned how to cook as well as he did. he shared his experience with both me and my 4 children. i’m not sure how to touch base with the family, but would love for my children to see where he stayed and enjoyed one of his finest experiences in life. they are from ages 12-20. if there’s anyway to help us communicate with them ,it would mean a great deal to them.
    thank you
    jeanne ranieri

  • Jessica Post author

    Hi, Jeanne:

    I think you should contact the Antinori family directly – the link to their website is in the article above, just click on the link on the name “Antinori.” You could also try contacting the people at 60 Minutes, but since there’s a website for the Antinori family it would make sense that you’d contact them directly.

    Good luck,
    Jessica

  • Drew

    What else I found interesting about the show was that when showing Morley Safer the little wine window, the Marchese pronounced “Chianti” exactly the way Anthony Hopkins did in Silence of the Lambs (key-an-tee rather than key-ahn-tee). Every Italian pronunciation guide I’ve seen insists that the “ahn” version is correct and I’ve seen posts lamenting Hopkins’ “lack of erudition” in pronouncing it the way he did. Hey, if it’s good enough for the Marchese, it works for me.

  • Jessica Post author

    It’s funny, I’m sitting here repeating the word “Chianti” over and over again to see how it’s pronounced, and I think it’s most accurate to say the “a” is somewhere between “an” and “ahn” – but not strictly either one. Which end of that spectrum one happens to fall toward may depend somewhat on regional dialects and accents, and it’s also true that some people change their pronunciations of words in their native language when they’re speaking another language so as to make it more understandable. So maybe that’s why the Marchese sounded more like Anthony Hopkins when he was saying Chianti in English. It’d be interesting to hear him say it in the context of a conversation he was having in Italian.

  • Art

    Jeanne:

    I also attended the Gonzaga program. Our school at the time was located in the Palazzo Antinori. While I was there I briefly met a couple of the Antinori family members. My general recollection tho, is that the Antinori family had little interaction with the Gonzaga students. We were invited once to go upstairs to visit the Marchese for a half an hour or so. I’d be surprised if your late husband had much more interaction with the Antinori family than I did, but I could be wrong. Great year in Italy tho. Great memories.

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