Region / Appellation
In the hilly amphitheater of Tuscany’s Maremma region, above an ancient coastal lake called Prelius, a vineyard organically farmed by the Stianti Mascheroni family flourishes. This vineyard, also called Prelius, is the first venture outside of Chianti Classico for the Stianti Mascheroni family, leaders in Tuscany’s organic viticultural movement.
The 21-hectare (52-acre) estate, purchased in 2007, is located in the municipality of Castiglione della Pescaia in the Grosseto region and is neighbored by the vineyards of Antinori and Bellavista.
Grosseto lies in the central part of the Maremma region, south of Bolgheri and north of Lazio, in the westernmost part of Tuscany. A plain carved by centuries of rivers and floods, Maremma is bordered by the coastline of the Tyrrhenian Sea, which is part of the Mediterranean Sea. To the east is a low range of maritime hills covered with Mediterranean “macchia,” a mix of plants and trees that is often credited for lending wines of the area a distinctive flavor.
Benefiting from the proximity to the sea, the Maremma has mild winters that rarely experience temperatures below freezing. Summer temperatures are relatively high during the day, but cool off in the evening due to breezes that flow from the sea to the hills. These breezes also help to keep humidity at bay. Rainfall primarily occurs in late autumn, winter and early spring.
The ancient Maremma region has long been valued for its natural resources. Among its historic attractions was a coastal lake originally called Prelius. The Etruscans relied on it as a commercial resource, farming it for fish and salt. Later, the Romans moved into the area and they too used the lake for their livelihood.
Two to three centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, an order of Benedictines (as often happens in successful wine stories) began cultivating crops, including grapes, along the shores of Prelius around 800 A.D. The coastal lake then reached from the Argentario peninsula to Castiglione della Pescaia, separated from the sea by a sandy strip that is now a marvelous thicket of pine trees.
Eventually, the lake grew swamp-like and in the early 1700s, the Grand Dukedom of Tuscany began the process of draining the lake. After starts and stops over the next two centuries, the lake was drained so the land could be used for agricultural purposes.
Today, only a small portion of the lake exists and is part of a national park that serves as a home for many migratory birds. On its shores, only lore and a few ancient walls remain of five fortresses built during the Iron Ages to protect the area from sea invasions, including Castellaccio di Prile, which borders the Prelius estate and the national park. In place of the castles are verdant vineyards, offering the region another valuable resource as vital as the lake and castles once were.Download (PDF)