Michael Schmelzer is the enologist and agronomist at Monte Bernardi, his family’s wine estate in Tuscany. The 130 acre property is in Panzano, the very heart of Chianti Classico (it’s said that the dead center – the ‘bellybutton’ – of the region runs through the property). Schmelzer, 38, lives on the property with his wife Claudia, daughters Olivia (7) and Sabina (3), Dad, and sister Jennifer (with him above) who is responsible for the family’s business affairs and according to her brother is “the backbone of the operation.”
Schmelzer dropped by Central Bottle last week to pour three of his wines (we couldn’t be more enthusiastic about them) and talk about what makes his property a special one. What follows is an edited version of my chat with him.
How does an American come to be making wine in Tuscany?
My father worked in the automotive industry and my family lived in Europe for extended periods. When the time came for my parents to retire, they and my sister hatched a scheme to bring the family together on a beautiful estate and make wine together. By then, I had graduated from enology school and they had confidence that I could make good wine. We had to balance my mother and sister’s desire to live in a beautiful place with my desire to make great wine. [Read more…]