The Vineyards of Ansonica

Ansonaco is the traditional wine of Giglio Island. Read about the steep vineyards carefully cultivated by the traditional vintners of Giglio Island.

Uva Ansonica Pronta per la Vendemmia

The Vineyards of Cantine Scarfo'

Vineyard Map, Island of Giglio

The Vineyards

The terraces that wrap around most of the island are testimony to Giglio’s long history of winemaking. Grapes were grown on these terraces starting in pre-Roman times. The remains of terracotta amphorae, and large granite ‘palmenti’ for preparing wine can still be seen in many vineyards. Today, only a small portion of the terraces are cultivated. Cesare Scarfo’ has rescued several old-vine vineyards, some of which had been abandoned for years and were in danger of being lost forever. The gnarled, twisted trunks of the old vines now have the possibility to grow and flourish, and their grapes pay homage the winemakers who worked the soil over the many decades.

Organic & Sustainable Farming

The vineyards are cultivated by hand, often only with use of a hoe. Working the soil and treatments are carried out using organic, ecologically sustainable practices. Wild herbs, native grasses and small plants are often grown in the vineyard and then gently tilled under to enrich and soften the soil. The soil composition of the island tends to be sandy and rich in minerals.

The Grape Vines

The vines are cultivated and pruned using the ‘head-trained’ system or "alberello", a typical practice of the ancient Mediterranean tradition. The head-trained vines lend themselves to a low to moderate production of high-quality grapes. Cesare learned this technique from Salvo Foti, a winemaker who cultivates his vineyards on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily.

The Harvest

Following island tradition, harvest takes place after the 15th of September and the famous celebration of Saint Mamilian. The late harvest ensures that the grapes have reached full maturity and are rich in sugar and aromas. The skins of the ansonica grapes demonstrate a sun-kissed appearance and appear dark amber in color. The harvest takes place over the course of two days with the help of other local winemakers and friends. Grape bunches are picked by hand and gently placed into crates which are then carried on the shoulders of the strongest members of the harvest crew up the steep trails. When the must is safe in the cellar at the Castle, the participants gather together for a snack of fresh bread, salami, ham, cheese, salted anchovies and of course, a glass of vino.

Vineyard of Corvo, Island of Giglio

The Vineyard of Corvo

This ancient vineyard faces southwest and offers a beautiful view of the sunsets. The land is terraced and surrounded by a raised mortarless, stone wall to protect the vines from rabbits and mouflons. The mouflon is the most ancient breed of sheep and the ancestor of all modern-day sheep. Though very rare, it can still be found in some of the wildest parts of the island.

Vineyard of the Tre Fonti - Ansonaco

The Vineyard of the Tre Fonti

The vineyard of Tre Fonti has a unique and fascinating atmosphere. There are three historic structures present in the vineyard: the “capannello”, the “palmento” and the oven. Each have been restored using traditional materials in order to maintain the original characteristics which have been present in this place for centuries. The three structures are located close together and provided the winemaker with the essentials. The capannello was used as a place of rest and reprieve and also to store tools and goods. The palmento at its side was used to crush the grapes and create the must. The oven provided the possibility of cooking food, baking bread and drying figs to keep in one’s pockets as a snack while working the land. This vineyard is one of the steepest and the terraces overlook the sea and rocky shoreline below.

Vineyard of Radice, Island of Giglio

The Vineyard of Radice

This steeply terraced vineyard faces northeast towards Monte Argentario and the Formiche Islands. The terraces have a natural amphitheater shape that helps protect the vines on days when the wind is strong. A small spring in the heart of the vineyard provides some relief to the surrounding vines during the hot summers. Although the steep grade makes the work in this vineyard very difficult, Radice rewards the effort at harvest time by giving healthy bunches of grapes, rich in flavor and fragrance.

Vineyard of Fontuccia - Ansonaco

The Vineyard of Fontuccia

This vineyard faces west towards Montecristo and the distant Corsica. This was the first vineyard planted by Amy and Cesare. At the top of the terraces looms a large, granite rock, called the “Affacciatojo" which historically was a lookout point for sailing ships. The locals were often threatened by Saracen pirate raids, the last of which took place in 1799.