This First Lady is No Prima Donna!

No, I am not talking politics! I am talking about Donatella Cinelli Colombini, one of Italy’s premier Brunello di Montalcino winemakers. This week we visited Fattoria del Colle in Trequanda and Casato Prime Donne, Donatella’s two estates that have been in the family since the 1500s.

The First Lady of Brunello

This is big red country, but Donatella does it in pink: in 1998 she created Casato Prime Donne, the first winery to have a staff entirely comprised of women, including the renowned enologist Valérie Lavigne. This is a place where women come first. Appropriate for the season, wouldn’t you say?


The feminine touch is apparent: there is art, there is music, there is beauty. Artworks grace the surrounding vineyards and are projected onto the vats of aging wine. There is a special tasting where the pairing is with music, created by a musician sommelier. The Casato Prime Donne Prize for photography and journalism was founded in 1999 and each year chooses a woman who has distinguished herself for courage and ethics, someone who has enhanced the presence of women in society and the workplace. I’m impressed!

Pursuing quality is tough work, though, so roll up those sleeves! The Tinaia del Vento (the vat room of the wind) combines nature and technology, open on four sides to naturally oxygenate the must.

Yours truly sipping some Brunello at the Tinaia del Vento




Women like to evolve, and here experimentation, and utilizing new and old techniques, is the norm. Get a load of these vats! See the egg-shaped ones at the back?

Donatella Cinelli Colombini knows all about firsts: in 1993 she founded the Movement of Wine Tourism and invented the event ‘Cantine Aperte‘ or Open Wine Cellars. Held on the last Sunday in May, it is a day in which wineries throughout Italy fling open their doors to the interested wine tourist. From 2001 to 2011 she was the City Councilor for Tourism in Siena – the first to occupy that post.

Donatella and yours truly, a couple of hairstyles back…

The First Lady of Casato Prime Donne is also a President – of the National Association of the Women of Wine. First Lady / President hmmmm….. Maybe it’s a trend?

This year there is a happy arrival, and of course, it’s a girl! A new Brunello called Io sono Donatella (I am Donatella) is Donatella’s dream Brunello, her baby. This wine is so new, there is no technical info available yet on their website. The 2010 vintage has arrived, and this wine will only be produced in the best years. And its whimsical bottle inspires us to dream right along with Donatella as the stars swirl into the sky…

But my whimsical favorite for the day is Cenerentola (Italian for Cinderella). An DOC Orcia red blend of Sangiovese and Foglia Tonda grapes, it is a delightful surprise.




And I just love the name! It reminds us that women can be both the princess waltzing until midnight in glass slippers, but also get dirty doing hard work with humility and determination.

Thank you, Donatella, for the whimsy and the wine!

Yours truly, Casato Prime Donne


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