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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.

>> 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!