By Simone Bandini


This is the story of a day in the hills of the lower Valdichiana. We are welcomed in the cellar – but not before taking us to the vineyards in a triumphant kaleidoscope of autumn colours – by the Ravazzi family, who have made unity and ethics a winning business model: from San Casciano dei Bagni to the conquest of distant international and exotic markets. Without forgetting the bond with their land that is expressed in the daily work, in the memories and in the confidential vocabulary of Alberto, his wife Roberta and their three children Martina, Matteo and Francesco.



The immediate impression is that of having ‘stumbled’ into a timeless, magnetic place, where the beauty and strength of the countryside mix with the harmony and history of this family.

The company was born in the immediate post-war period, so Alberto Ravazzi remembers his father’s beginnings and character: “Enio was a very helpful man, of few words. In the 1950s it had already activated the Roman market with local agri-food trade, wine and various food products”. Then he lets himself go to a romantic memory of his youth: “The oldest memory is olfactory: the acrid, very strong scent of fermenting wine, whose aroma rose from the cellars to the upper floor, where we lived, so much so that to leave the house to go to school I had to run, so as not to be ‘stunned’ by the intense smell”.

“Like my father,” he continues, “who was a railway worker before dedicating himself to wine, so it happened for me; I came back from my military service and chose the countryside. Enio had started with the first wines and with the so-called ‘autochthonous grapes’, making a local production. Then, at the end of the ’60s, he started with Chianti, planting the first vineyard.”

“Just recently,” he enthusiastically points out, “we wanted to revisit those first bottles with a special Chianti edition from the classic line. In the early ’70s, it was his friend ‘Fualdè’, a famous Roman restaurateur of the time, who convinced his father to the first “modern” bottling, overcoming the trade of demijohns and bulk wine”.

“Then, in 1986,” he recalls, “we founded Cantine Ravazzi – when I officially started working with him, who has always supported me and trusted my innovations. That was how I was able to take sales abroad.” An image that Alberto condenses into a sort of visual mysticism: “I always have within me the image of an airplane gliding towards the conquest of new markets. And this has always been my calling, which is to open up new challenges all over the world. The first positive ‘shock’ was given by a large importer from South Korea, whom we met in Sarteano and who became our customer. So, we began to export bottles with artistic forms for that very distant, particular market.”

In Asia, then, other requests came from Thailand, this time with traditional bottles and, at the end of the 90s, from the United States: “With this euphoria of conquest, our contact person in New York suggested that we come to Manhattan to promote our wine at an event organized by a prestigious hotel. For some reason we decided not to go, even though we contributed our product in partnership. Think… On the same day there was the attack on the Twin Towers for which, intuition seems to me, played its part. A coincidence that made me think a lot about destiny and its unpredictable course.”



In 2001, with other importers, we would have inaugurated the trade with the American market, together with the expansion in nearby Europe, in particular in Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Poland, Denmark and of course England and France – where we have only one historic and loyal customer who sells only our wine: the restaurant ‘I Paparazzi’ in the heart of Paris”.

In 1996, following the death of the founder Enio, Alberto’s wife – Roberta – joined the company: “I arrived in a family where life and work have always been merged and integrated in an absolute way. I must say that I was welcomed with open arms. Franca Maria, my husband’s mother, gave me an extraordinary welcome. I didn’t have an entrepreneurial spirit; However, I have ‘breathed’ this resourcefulness every day as I have been and always felt fully involved.” Today Roberta follows the activities of the Cellars in full, dealing in particular with administration, public relations and logistics of travel, tastings and sales.

“Even in the period in which I dedicated myself to my children,” she continues, “I was always at the centre of the dynamics of work, living right upstairs… unavoidable! I really like to establish a relationship with people rather than a commercial one; this is why I organize tastings both in Italy and abroad, which I manage by reservation throughout the year, favouring small groups and also convivial moments directly in the vineyard, so to speak en plein air!”

The strength of this family: “It is precisely its unity, in the perfect interpenetration of business and values”.

It was the turn to meet the youngest, Francesco, 23 years old, who revealed a very first memory: “I was maybe seven years old and I used to climb the stairs to the top of the barrel while my father told me to sniff softly, otherwise I would have gotten drunk! I have always participated in the life of the company and it was an elective choice to be part of it”. Graduated in oenology: “I like the production part and so I intend to grow in a professional sense, alongside the winery’s historic oenologist Andrea Bernardini who has been with us for fifteen years”.

The eldest son, Matteo, 26, on the other hand, has taken other paths: “I studied ‘Economics’ with a degree obtained in Siena and I am a trader in a Sienese bank. I remember with pleasure (and how much effort!) the work in the vineyard, even for me wine is part of my personal history”.

For Martina, 28 years old: “The wine shop has always been present even in the most distant memories. We lived up here and it was inevitable to immerse ourselves in this ancient and surprising world. I studied ‘Childhood Sciences’ in the Tuscan capital and I have always taken part in the family business. Then, I specialized with a Master’s degree in ‘Marketing and Communication’ at the University of Rome and I perfected the use of the English language. Today, therefore, I follow the company’s all-round communication and take care of the tastings and trade fairs in which we take part”.

Alberto takes the floor again: “Today we are oriented towards the selection of mainly foreign markets and operators, wanting to consolidate the relationships already undertaken at an international level. Using a winemaking metaphor, the last decade has really made us ‘mature’ thanks to the creation of the ‘Private Collection’ which has decisively raised the target audience with high-profile wines, also dragging with it the ‘Classic’ line. The tastings are a magnifying glass to make our wines known, which is why we have also made agreements with local accommodation facilities and we also want to encourage Valley Life readers to visit our company and taste our various productions and the most prestigious bottles”.



Info: Cantine Ravazzi, Via delle Cantine 2/4/6, Fraz. Palazzone, San Casciano dei Bagni (Si) / Tel. +39 0578 56008 / /