Spotlight on Vernaccia di San Gimignano and the Consortium’s New President – Irina Guicciardini Strozzi #ItalianFWT


This month’s #ItalianFWT topic is about one of my absolute favorite topics – Italian Women in Wine – which I have been writing about for 12 years and thinking about for 15 years since I first met some of the women in Le Donne del Vino, the preeminent association for Italian Women in Wine. Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, March 8th so this is a perfect time to write and think about women.

The picture above is of Irina Guicciardini Strozzi who is now the President of the Consortium del Vino Vernaccia di San Gimignano. In the photo, she is presenting an award, the Premio Giulio Gambelli for the under-40 oneologist who best represents the spirit of the late great master of Tuscan winemaking. Irina herself is young, just over 30 years old and pregnant as you can see. I was so happy to see that a young, pregnant woman could be the President of a major wine consortium in Italy. Times have changed. Yes, the Italian and world wine world is still heavily male dominated but we have made progress and her elevation to President represents that to me.

Interesting, she is the second female President of this consortium in a row. The last President was also female, Letizia Cesani. I first tasted the Guicciardini Strozzi wine and met Irina’s older sister Natalia many years ago at a Society of Wine Educators conference. I wrote about that experience here.

The Guicciardini Strozzi family can trace its ancestry back some 1000 years. On the website they list the winery as having started in 994. That is the date of the first documentation of their ancestral home, the Villa Cusona. Villa Cusona is a 530 hectare property. Principe Girolamo Guicciardini Strozzi, Irina’s father, was one of the original signatories of the Vernaccia di San Gimignano application for Denomination of Controlled Origin. Vernaccia was one of the very first DOCs in Italy, granted in 1966. Her father was also among the nine founders of the San Gimignano Consortium in 1972. He was also its first President until 1987, then again from 1993 to 2000. She is named after her Mother, also called Irina. Irina and her sister are the 15th generation running the family wineries.

I did not visit the Villa but I did get the chance to attend the incredible tasting held in the Sala Dante in the center of San Gimignano, the most amazing tasting room I’ve ever been in with 13th century frescos  in a Medieval town  hall, the Palazzo Comunale. For a lover of this period in Art history it was such a treat. Last year I was alone in the museum above the Sala Dante with frescos and painting by Filippino Lippi and the like – it was breathtaking.

Vernaccia and the Guicciardini Strozzi family property the Villa Cusona have been making history for many centuries. Dante mentions Vernaccia in the Purgatorio, XXIV 19-24, Michelangelo also mentions Vernaccia in the 1600s, and Lorenzo de Medici is listed as having received Vernaccia as a gift from the residents of Villa Cusona. As if all of these famous connections weren’t enough, an Italian genealogist announced that the Guicciardini Strozzi family is related to the alleged model for the Mona Lisa, a certain Lisa Gherardini. None of this was mentioned during the Anteprime events that I attended in February but it is all interesting history about this amazing historic family which has been part of so much of Italy’s cultural, economic, political and viticultural fabric for centuries.

During the Anteprime, I tasted at least 85 different versions of Vernaccia. Vernaccia has both great aromatics as well as structure and length. It is quintessentially an Italian white wine with its minerally, salinity and bitter almond note on the finish. I will write about the Vernaccia 2019 and 2018 vintages tomorrow but today will focus on this one amazing azienda.

We tasted two wines from the Guicciardini Strozzi family, their Titolato Strozzi 2019 and the Vernaccia di San Gimignano Riserva 2017.

The former is made with 90% Vernaccia and a small percentage of Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The grapes are hand harvested and vinified at controlled temperature in stainless steel. It is bottled relatively early to preserve freshness and varietal character.

This version of Vernaccia always reminds me of fresh white flowers on a summer day, with citrus notes and whiff of herbs.

Their Riserva is only made in the best years. They use cryomaceration (cold soak) on the grapes. This procedure tends to bring out more tannins, anthocyanins and color from grapes.

After maceration, the wine is then aged in  French oak barriques in the Villa Cusona cellars. This wine is made with 100% Vernaccia grapes.  The barrel maturing gives the wine a nutty, biscuity quality which I rather enjoyed. It is not overdone and has notes of minerality and almond flowers which are typical of Vernaccia. Vernaccia di San Gimignano became a DOCG in 1993.

Join our fellow Italian wine and food lovers as they share more women in the Italian wine industry with suggested food pairings.  You can also join us live on Twitter this Saturday at #ItalianFWT @ 11am EST.


  1. Wow, that’s a lot of Vernaccia to taste! Love your description of Strozzi’s version: “fresh white flowers on a summer day, with citrus notes and whiff of herbs.” Great to see a woman heading up a major wine consortium. Shows Italy is changing!

  2. The Sala Dante, what a venue for a tasting. And your historical notes on Vernaccia, I appreciate your including them. The Guicciardini Strozzi family should include a historical room at their winery/Villa!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing Irina’s story and info on these wines! It is really good to see women making strides in the wine world in Italy!

  4. San Gimignano is such a great town, but I feel we don’t hear about vernaccia too often. It’s one of my favorite whites. I LOVE that she is a young female and expecting mother along with President of the Consortium. Fantastic!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.