The Culture of Wine Part III: Montefalco and Benozzo

Benozzo Gozzoli has always been one of my favorite Quattrocento painters. How could you not love a guy with a name like that? Or a face like this?

Benozzo, self portrait

Benozzo was a busy guy: besides frescoing one of the great masterpieces of the Quattrocento for the Medici family in Florence, an Adoration of the Magi in their private family chapel…

 One of my all-time favorite works of art: Benozzo Gozzoli’s Adoration of the Magi, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

… he was frescoing like a madman even in places like Montefalco. You know Montefalco, home to Sagrantino. And you probably know the producer, Arnaldo Caprai, that put Sagrantino on the map.

Marco Caprai, known as Sua Sagrantinità (His Holiness with a Sagrantino touch!), uses all the social media available to get his New Green Revolution message out there: sustainable agriculture and good wine go hand in hand.

Caprai loves beautiful things, and Benozzo Gozzoli is beautiful. #caprai4love is the Caprai project supporting culture. Like Tina Turner sang, What’s love got to do with it? Beats me, but where there’s Benozzo and Umbria and wine, there’s love.

img_2313OK, so have you figured it out yet? Caprai is the same family as Cruciani, one and the same, and even those little ubiquitous bracelets are funding culture. ‘Benozzo fecit in Montefalco’ is the perfect name for the little grape clusters with heart that is this adorable bracelet.

The first part of the project in 2013 was to acquire the letter that Benozzo Gozzoli wrote in 1452 to tell the folks in Florence how he couldn’t come do a job for them because he needed to finish the fresco cycle in the Church of San Francesco in Montefalco. Now that is Montefalco pride, my friends!

Benozzo’s autograph letter telling the Florentines he was too busy to paint for them!

And it’s no mistake that the subject and the church are dedicated to Saint Francis, the most famous saint from Umbria, and Patron Saint of Italy. This is St. Francis territory – Assisi is just a hop and a skip away! San Francesco is the ‘greenest’ saint going – peace, love, nature – and Caprai is the greenest wine producer going!

Life of St. Francis fresco cycle, Montefalco


Another part of the project was to host Benozzo’s Madonna della Cintola, lent by the Vatican Museums, so it could return home for a stay in Montefalco.

And finally, with a special fund-raising effort, Caprai is financing the restoration of the fresco cycle dedicated to the life of Saint Francis painted by Benozzo in 1452.

And a limited edition 6 bottle set recomposes the great Franciscans part of the fresco if you put the bottles side by side.


The cru? Montefalco Sagrantino Docg Vigna del Lago 2012 which is for sale online – it’s your lucky day! You don’t have to come all the way to Montefalco to get it! But then again, maybe that’s not lucky… Much better to visit! And you’re helping culture while you drink great wine!

Umbria is a kind of magic place. It’s not hard to understand how those Renaissance painters were so inspired to create even more beauty.

And it’s not hard to understand how Caprai – surrounded by all that natural and cultural beauty – is inspired to make great wine! Take a look at what we tasted that day!


Yours truly, contemplating all the beauty, the culture, the wine, and wondering if the long and winding road will take her back to Umbria…


Arnaldo Caprai Estate

One thought on “The Culture of Wine Part III: Montefalco and Benozzo

  1. Finally had the time to read this……what a wonderful piece! And of course, it evoked the unique sights, marvelous fragrance and beauty of the Montefalco region and the Caprai estate we visited last summer. BRAVA!

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