The History of
San Gimignano DOC
A territory devoted to wine
By virtue of the unquestionable vocation of the area of San Gimignano for the production of many red wines, Vin Santo (or Vinsanto) and Rosé wine, the Consortium decided in the mid-1990s, after years of research and observation in the field and in local cellars, to create a new DOC, “San Gimignano”, which regulates not only red wine but also the production of Vin Santo and Rosé wine produced in the city of towers.
These production regulations have been updated several times over the years, leading in 2011 to the entry into force of the current “Disciplinare di produzione della DOC San Gimignano” (San Gimignano DOC Production Regulations).
A “vermilion” wine
The production of red wines in the San Gimignano area has always been particularly significant in terms of both quality and quantity. The local presence of viticulture in the area dates back to Etruscan times, as testified by many archaeological finds from that period.
The production and sale of wine has been the main agricultural and economic activity in the San Gimignano area for centuries and, in actual fact, the production of red wine has always been higher than that of white wine, the more famous Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
Between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance, the vineyards of San Gimignano produced both white wine and a “vermilion” wine, a full-bodied and highly esteemed red wine.
The city of towers is also famous for its Vin Santo, a wine with a long tradition: the earliest records date back to 1348, when a Franciscan monk tried to soothe the agonies of the plague victims with a sweet wine. It was at this time that the local sweet wine took the name Vin Santo (holy wine).
In addition to its therapeutic use, Vinsanto was for centuries the wine that farming families used to welcome visitors, with guests being given a “bicchierino” (a little glass) of Vinsanto, which was produced in “vinsantaie” (Vinsanto lofts), in small casks known as “caratelli”. Every family had its own recipe, expedients and procedures that were handed down from father to son.
San Gimignano today
In the mid-1990s, by virtue of the area’s unquestionable vocation for the production of red wines and Vinsanto, and after years of research and observation both in the field and in the local cellars, the Consortium decided, with the support of all its members, to standardise the historical production of San Gimignano’s red wines and Vinsanto.
In 1996, the DOC “San Gimignano” Rosso, Sangiovese, Rosato and Vin Santo was created.
At that time, the San Gimignano winegrowing community, strengthened by its age-old history of local vine-growing and winemaking, but equally aware of the importance of innovation in both viticulture and oenology, planted small plots of international grapes such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Pinot Noir in addition to Sangiovese, the principal grape variety used in the production of Tuscany’s red wines. With considerable investments in the cellar, they produced potent, powerful red wines that immediately found favour with both the specialised press and wine experts.
The work of the Consortium
The Consortium, vigilant and attentive to the new direction taken by winegrowing in San Gimignano, adapted the “San Gimignano” DOC production regulations as early as 2003, introducing new types of outstanding local red wine, produced successfully by its members.
Eight vintages after that of 2003, during which the local winegrowers consolidated the existing techniques on one hand and introduced new techniques and technologies in both viticulture and oenology on the other, the time had come once again for the Consortium to adapt the San Gimignano DOC production regulations and, in 2011, the current production regulations were approved and brought into force.
The Consortium has its head office in San Gimignano, in the historical and hilly Tuscan turreted city, in the central point of the territory from which all the protected wines originate, in other words, in the ‘Kingdom of the White Queen’.