Castello Banfi is a winery in Montalcino in Tuscany, Italy. It is located to the south of Montalcino, at the confluence of the Orcia and Ombrone rivers, on the borders of the Val d’Orcia. The main building is the 13th century Castello of Poggio alle Mura. The company‘s main wines from Montalcino are Sant’Antimo Rosso DOC, Rosso di Montalcino DOC and Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. Wines from a plethora of other region in Italy include Bolgheri DOC.

Owning family: The Mariani family. | CEO: Cristina Mariani. She represents the third generation in the wine business. Three children. Runs marathons.

Background: Banfi started in Brookfield, New York, initially as wine importers and seller importers in the United States. John Mariani, Jr., son of founder Giovanni F. Mariani, graduated from Cornell University in the 1950s and then pursued two years of viticultural studies in Europe. Upon his return to the US, John Mariani, Jr. followed the path of this father and, together with his brother Harry, assumed control of the firm. John, thanks to his long term strategic vision, became Chief Executive Officer. John Mariani, Jr. contributed to Banfi in a decisive way, his passion and perseverance leading to the realization of his “impossible dream:” the birth of Castello Banfi, in 1978, in Montalcino, Tuscany. His daughter is Cristina Mariani.

Vineyards–Montalcino: Of the 7,100 acres of land, about one third is under vine. The remainder is occupied by olive groves, fruit trees (mainly plums), woods and scrub.

Burton Anderson (1980) says that ‘of the nearly 1,000 acres planted by 1980 at their new property near Sant’Angelo in Colle, only 125 acres were in Brunello, an object of curiosity locally. Most remaining acreage has been planted in Moscadello, the local version of the Moscato Bianco grape, whose history here surpasses Brunello by hundreds of years. Moscadello was among the most treasured wines of Tuscany when tastes ran to aromatic dessert wines. Banfi and [Ezio] Rivella are convinced that those tastes are coming back. Rivella plans to make a lightly sweet sparkling wine that should be somewhat mindful of Asti,’ (Anderson, 1980, p261-262).

Brunella, the Pliocene whale: Brunella, a Pliocene era whale was discovered close to the Banfi’s Poggio Alle Mura castle in Montalcino in 2007. The whale dates back to about 4 million years ago. Dr. Michelangelo Bisconti, of the San Diego Natural History Museum was involved in the excavation and restoration work, in a multidisciplinary scientific study conducted in collaboration with various universities. The restoration and research work is part of the Brunella Project and the result of the collaboration between the Archaeological Superintendence, Fine Arts and Landscape for the provinces of Siena, Grosseto and Arezzo, Banfi and the Institute of Archaeological-Anthropological Studies. The project is supported by an Art Bonus grant from Banfi to the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, as well as the support of Montalcino and the recognition of prestigious Italian and international scientific institutions.

Winemaking: Banfi created and patented their own fermentation tanks, a hybrid construction using both stainless steel and wood.

Vineyards–Chianti Classico: In Castellina in Chianti.

Red wines

Bolgheri Rosso DOC, Aska

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Castello Banfi: 2015 580,000 bottles.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Poggio alle Mure: 2015 60,000 bottles.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva, Poggio al’Oro: 2013 15,200 bottles.

Chianti Classico DOCG, Banfi: 2017 90% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. 500,000 bottles.

Chianti Classico DOCG, Fonte alla Selva: 2017 85% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva, Banfi: 2017 90% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione, Fonte alla Selva: 2015 90% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Rosso di Montalcino DOC Castello Banfi: 2018 750,000 bottles.

Rosso di Montalcino DOC Poggio alle Mure: 2018 50,000 bottles.

White wines

Moscadello di Montalcino DOC, Florus: 2017 19,000 bottles.

Museum of Bottle & Glass

The “Museum of Bottle and Glass,” named for Giovanni F. Mariani, illustrates the various eras of glass production through history, from the 5th century BC to our current day. Perhaps the most interesting display within the entire museum focuses on the ancient Roman glassware, which according to some authorities is the world’s largest private collection of such pieces.

Within the historic walls, in the old stable and olive pressing room, which still holds equipment dating back to 1857, the display rooms have been attentively assembled to explain the history of glass and the evolution of the wine bottle. In these rooms you will find collections of antique wine bottles, ancient and modern glassware from Venice, including the stupendous “The Water Girl” by Pablo Picasso. The beautiful collection of Roman glass begins with smallobjects in moulded glass traced back to the 5th and 4th century BC, and continues with blown vases and balsam bottles from the 1st and 2nd centuries CE, ending with blown bottles and carafes dating to the 4th and 5th centuries CE. Among the Venetian pieces which are fascinating for their color and delicate structure are those which were worked with a 16th century ‘basket weave’ pattern and a large 16th century display chalice with elements in brass, purchased by the Banfi Foundation to enhance the collection and make it even more interesting to visitors of the museum.

Museum Hours: (entry via paid ticket)
– 10 am to 7:30 am from March 24th to November 12th
– 10 am to 6:30 pm from November 12th to March 23rd, (the Museum is closed December 25 and January 1)