He produces 11 million bottles of wine each year across six Tuscan estates, employs 500 people and has an annual turnover of around €95 million. Marchese Lamberto Frescobaldi is a 30th generation winemaker and president of the Frescobaldi group.
Marchese grew up on the family estate Castello di Nipozzano in Chianti. After studying agricultural science and management at the University of California, he worked alongside his father in business producing milk, livestock and of course, wine.
Wine, he says, is embedded in Italian life and religion. “In Italy, wine is an important part of everyday culture and the Catholic Church. It’s the blood of Christ.”
Stories are passed down those 30 generations, such as an event in the 17th-century hosted by Bartolomeo Frescobaldi with a specific dress code: all attendees had to be naked. History says that on hearing word of this, Pope Clement XI threatened excommunication and ruled that Bartolemeo must build 40 chapels on his estates in penance. Honouring this historic story is the “Forty Altars” Vin Santo that still carries the name.
Other bottles, too, have an equally unorthodox history, including those made on Gorgona, a prison island off the coast of Tuscany. Here, prisoners serve time for serious crimes and are employed by Frescobaldi to make wine. This project is part of Italy’s reintegration of former criminals and helps them to find work after incarceration. Studies show that prisoners are 40 per cent less likely to reoffend if they have work after their release, and Frescobaldi finds great pride in supporting this initiative.
“To be able to earn money with hard work and responsibility every month is the best feeling in the world,” he says.
He is now planning a bigger vineyard on another island penitentiary, Pianosa, where mafia offenders are held, and has also begun working with another prison to produce olive oil.
You can read more about Marchase Lamberto Frescobaldi and the Frescobaldi dynasty’s rich and intriguing history tied to the church, Italian royalty and the prison system in a recent article in the Financial Times.
View our Frescobaldi range here