Tag Archives: vineyard

The Harvest 2018

Chardonay Grapes

I know some of you know that we have a vineyard here in the Lunigiana. It came with the house. The funny story is that when we bought the house, the vineyard was never mentioned. It was only mentioned when the sellers accepted our offer, and we were toasting with their (now our) wine. Imagine how happy and surprised we were. As we always say, “only in Italy!” It’s actually a longer story, one that I am including in my next book Italy is my Boyfriend,¬†which I am in the middle of writing right now.

Every year (it’s been 3), I look forward to the harvest. I excitedly wait for our vintner’s entire family to arrive. Even the dog joins in.


One of the Vinter Brothers

For me, fall is thee best time of year in Italy! It’s the harvest, and it’s just so amazing to watch everything ripen. You literally see the seasons change here in farm country.

Fingers crossed this year’s harvest will make for a delicious vintage. Cin Cin from the vineyard…

xx Annette


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Oh, and we have a vineyard…Lunigiana, Italy

our wine

I’ve been known to bury the lede as they say…when we bought La Fortezza, I was so enamored with the house/fortress that I forgot about the property itself. So, here it is: we have a vineyard. It’s 5 acres on the upper edge of the property. Obviously Frank and I know nothing about making wine. Hell, Frank does not ever drink the stuff (he’s a beer guy).


The vineyard was in bad shape about 5 years ago. The brothers that owned the property were approached by a local winemaker, Manolo (I know perfect name, right?). He was in the process of setting up his wine business. He’s a former teacher, and he and his family wanted to launch their own label. It’s not uncommon here to work many smaller vineyards to produce a label, and that is exactly how he works. You need a ton of acres to produce wine, so working 10 smaller vineyards in the region makes perfect sense. It’s a win win for us, too because we have no interest in working the land, not to mention we don’t have a stitch of knowledge. It is the perfect accidental hobby. No sweat…just vino delivered once a month. He pays rent in wine, and we will take it. For now, it’s the perfect arrangement. We feel very lucky. Manolo was an unknown perk.

Manolo has vineyards all around the area. He and his family cultivate, rent vineyards, and make both red and white wines, although this year he will put up a batch of Rose just for the Joseph label. It’s a win win because he came with the house as part of the deal. Now I am busting at the seams with wine. Some of you have asked if you can purchase our wine. Since this is something new for us, right now it’s our own private stock. However who knows?! Down the road, we may become a wine brand, but for now our workshop attendees and guests will enjoy the fruits of the land at every meal. So if you want to partake, you may just need to join us here for a workshop or retreat in the fall or later next year.

Levi and Frank and Syd in the vineyard

In the meantime our son Levi, a recent business school graduate, has a keen interest in developing our wine label, so who knows? It may become the new family business. It’s all about generations in Italy after all…

I would like to thank my dear friend Penny for the cool label design. We love it. xx

We have a vineyard! I am still pinching myself… cin cin xx

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Our Vineyard Walk, a Pause from Renovation in Tuscany

img_4146 The Vineyard

As many of you may know, Frank and I bought a medieval fortress with a vineyard in northern Tuscany. I am here now overseeing the renovation with my best friend, Forrest. Lucky for me, he’s a designer and is very experienced with renovations in Italy. In fact, he designed our first house here in Alassio, Italy 12 years ago. It’s daunting and exciting, and quite frankly sometimes I have to pinch myself. When we were looking for a property to renovate, owning a vineyard was never in the plan.

The Vineyard The Vineyard

After looking for 3 + years, we finally settled on La Prugna, a fortress perched on the top of a mountain with an incredible view. The vineyard, quite frankly, was an afterthought, we were so focused on buying the house, which is an impossible task in Italy (I won’t go into details, I will save that for my book Italy is my Boyfriend¬†which I am currently writing), and when I tell you buying this property was so all consuming that the vineyard never crossed my mind, I mean it. In fact when I tell people about the house, I frequently don’t even mention the vineyard, or it’s buried in the lede.

A few months have passed since the purchase, so the renovation is in full swing. I can finally relax and start thinking about the positives…and the vineyard is a big positive. It has finally sunk in the we now have our own wine. I am drinking it every night at aperitivo and am completely mind blown! We will be serving it to all of our students at workshops, and yes, students will be able to take some home. Of course I have already given the task of creating our label to a graphic designer and illustrator, my good friend Penny. She and I have already put together some amazing ideas, and of course, the label will represent The Fortress in all of its glory.


I took a walk in the vineyard on a gorgeous fall day, enjoying the beautiful path along the way. For me it was surreal as I never imagined that we would ever own a vineyard; it was not something that I even dreamed of. But sometimes life takes you places you never envisioned. I have always lived my life this way: follow the journey and see where it leads. This path lead us to our vineyard.

Go figure.

Follow along as we design our label; I may have you help us pick the winner, and of course, as we renovate The Fortress. You can see progress here on my instagram account

If you want to see the progress in person, we still have spots open at our style photo workshops next summer. Check them out here. They are filling up, so if you’re interested, I would grab a spot at the table; you can taste our wine for yourself and enjoy the view of the Tuscan countryside.

Cin cin xx


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