Viticulture in this hilly area dates back to the times of the Etruscans, who dominated this stretch of Tuscany from 800 and 500 BC. Castello del Terriccio’s history begins in the Middle Ages, over 1000 years ago, when the castle of Doglia (called del Terriccio) was built to warn of approaching Saracen pirates. Granted to the Gaetani counts by the Bishop of Pisa in the 1200’s, it spent several centuries in the Gaetani family, only to be bought by the Poniatowski princes, emigrated from Poland, in the late 1700s. It was the Poniatowskis who transformed the castle into an agricultural estate, cultivating farmland and constructing a cellar and farmhouses.
The modern history of Terriccio begins in the first half of the 1900s, when the estate was acquired by the Marquises Serafini Ferri , the family of the current owner. It is to Gian Annibale Rossi di Medelana (1942-2019) that Castello del Terriccio owes its worldwide fame of being a winery dedicated to the production of very high quality wines. After inheriting the company in 1975, he decided to found it anew, dedicating it to being a place of research for excellence in vineyards and wines, while keeping the ancient character intact and defending a territorial heritage of great value and extraordinary beauty.
Today the ownership has passed onto Vittorio Piozzo di Rosignano Rossi di Medelana, the only nephew of the cavalier Gian Annibale. Also descended from noble families with large landholdings in the country that date back to past centuries, Vittorio has left behind his career in finance to devote himself to the management of the family's agricultural activities and now to the direct administration of Castello del Terriccio.
Castello del Terriccio represents one of the largest estates in Tuscany: spanning approximately 1500 hectares in total, of which 65 are allocated to the vineyards and 40 to the olive groves, that extend along the northern border of the Tuscan region of Maremma near Bolgheri.
The fortunate combination of soil, air and light, make this microcosm unique; a place where nature and human intervention are integrated with balance and the latter, with foresight, was able to safeguard the biodiversity of the area over time by maintaining the presence of different crops and spontaneous vegetation next to the vineyards.
The vineyards are alternated with forests of oaks, eucalyptus trees and the Mediterranean bush that colors and perfumes the landscape. Beyond the bush are meadows, farmhouses, and grassy plains sloping down to the sea which run along the Maremma coast between Castiglioncello and Bibbona. The various streams and lake that surround them ensure water for plants and abundant wildlife.
From the property, on clear days, you can see four islands of the Tuscan archipelago, and at sunset, the spectacle of the fiery sun disappearing into the Tyrrhenian Sea. Ruins of the medieval castle that gives the estate its name are located on the highest hill, where one has the best view.
In addition to the vineyards and olive groves, the property also breeds Limousine cattle in the wild.
The cultivation of vines in these lands dates back to the Etruscan times, and at the end of the 1980’s, a new phase of viticulture began, in order to fully explore the potential of the area and its actual vocation.
The large extension of the property allowed them to choose the most suitable land for the vineyards, while taking into consideration the characteristics of the soil, dew point, exposure to sea breezes and exposure to light. The 65 hectares of vineyards are positioned so that the sea acts as a mirror and therefore light comes as a reflection, lasting longer than direct sunlight. The soils provide mineral elements such as iron and copper mixed in with the earth: a balanced interaction of sands, silt and clay.
The choice of grape varieties to plant at Terriccio was meticulous. They decided on a selection of international strains, imagining the possibility of reaching new and important results while keeping consistently high quality wines. After Chardonnay was introduced in 1988 and Sauvignon Blanc in 1989, the red varieties followed: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which found particular expression on the property, going beyond results achieved in the places they were traditionally planted in the early nineties. Then Syrah and Petit Verdot were introduced to experiment and expand the ampelographic platform in the vineyard, and micro-vinified to verify their capacity for acclimatization and expression.
The vineyards are farmed with spurred cordon for the red varieties and Guyot for the white. To protect the water resources, defend against erosion, and safeguard biodiversity, grassing is maintained in intercalary rows, with manured autumn sowing. The planting densities adopted in the new installations are approximately 6,250 plants per hectare.
The objective pursued with all grape varieties, especially when winemaker Carlo Ferrini joined the company in the early 90s, was the reduction of the production, brought down to 900 grams of grapes per plant. In this way it was possible to obtain a natural richness and concentration of the wines, with an important polyphenolic charge, a great structure accompanied by a particular softness, and with a remarkable aging capacity.
The new varieties immediately prove incredibly capable of enhancing the character of the wines and transmitting the warmth, brightness, and richness of this particular stretch of the Tuscan coast. In 1992 Tassinaia was born, the first wine conceived by Gian Annibale Rossi of Medelana. Shortly after, in 1993, came Lupicaia, an immediate disruptor due to its sheer excellence, and in 2000, Castello del Terriccio was born.