Today I want to briefly introduce you to the ever-elegant, imperturbable Donatella Cinelli Colombini!
She is the mastermind behind the successful vineyard and the welcoming villa where we stay for our Italy retreats. And she is the reason I keep returning to Fattoria del Colle year after year!
In getting to know her, you will soon discover, as I have, that Donatella has a great and enduring respect for the past, but she is also an innovative pioneer for the future. She manages to hold these two dueling character traits together with an unfathomable amount of grace.
A Pioneer for Women in Wine
Donatella was the first person in Tuscany to create vineyards and wines using an all-female staff. She even has female winemakers, previously unheard of in Italy! When she started looking for a female winemaker in 1998, she found that women were being trained as winemakers, but that no one was using them.
Donatella knows that women love wine, and years ago she set out on a mission of making sure that women have a hand in making and profiting from a product that is purchased and consumed by so many women.
She started with a vineyard that was in debt and needed to be totally replanted, and now she has collected countless prizes for her wines, which she sells to 38 countries.
In 2008, Donatella decided to award the finest Brunello each year from her vineyards with her name (Prime Donne). In a time where men still do most of the wine tasting for prizes in Italy, Donatella’s prized wine is intentionally chosen every year by a panel of four female wine tasters. This is just one of the many ways Donatella is opening up opportunities for women in the world of wine.
Fattoria del Colle
Fattoria del Colle has been in Donatella’s family since the middle ages. It left the family for around 300 years between the 16th and 20th centuries, but it was bought back by the family in 1919. During this time it was used by Donatella’s maternal forefathers for hunting and honeymoons.
In 1998 Donatella began transforming Fattoria del Colle into the agriturismo it is today. She was committed to restoring the property and buildings with integrity. She wanted to allow the buildings to speak into the present, which required a pain-stakingly slow process of discovery and restoration, one that Donatella refers to as a “treasure hunt.”
Trained as an art historian, Donatella conserves the history of Fattoria by using traditional furnishings, local craftsmen and even by serving regional cuisine in her restaurant.
The result is that people come to Fattoria to experience what they might have in visiting their grandparents in Tuscany. Collected recipes from Tuscan grandmothers are used for tarts and cakes. Guests gather around a table to learn to make the local pici pasta. A vegetable garden is kept full of Tuscan wild herbs that grace the dishes on the table.
One of the best parts of coming to Fattoria is being welcomed by Donatella herself. She actually lives in the building where we stay, and she eats in her restaurant. And though she has a constantly full schedule of running her successful business, teaching others about wine and awarding or accepting prizes, she will always pause to welcome you to Tuscany.
Your presence at Fattoria is a sign that she has succeeded in what she set out to do so many years ago: to share the history and beauty of this corner of the world with others!