American-born, London-based Frank Grace purchased the 19th-century windmill (“molino”), adjacent barn, villa (Villa di Castagnoli) and vineyards in 1995. He carefully picked their geographic and microclimatic situation, ensconced in the heart of the Panzano zone of Chianti Classico. Mr. Grace restored the ancient barn close to the villa and filled it with sculptures, paintings, contemporary installations, and artifacts that spilled out into the surrounding land. In fact, he transformed it into a combination art gallery and state-of-the-art winery, completing it in 1998. The Panzano estate has seen grape-growing for the past 350 years, though Frank Grace has decidedly awoken the sleeping beauty and propelled it into the third millennium. At the same time, Il Molino di Grace is profoundly rooted in local heritage. In the words of Frank Grace’s son, Tim: “The Grace family philosophy is simple: being true to the rich tradition of Tuscan winemaking and its unique terroir.”
The property includes some 110 acres under vine. Vineyards average 25 years of age, though many are much older. For example, the single vineyard that goes into Gratius is 55 to 70 years old! Soil is classic Classico galestro: the local combination of marl and limestone — very friable calcareous rocks, soft and permeable to heat and water, thus ensuring superb drainage and maturation; perfect for the noble Tuscan native, Sangiovese. In fact, the high-end reds of Il Molino di Grace are all pure Sangiovese varietals.
If there is one group of professionals who exemplify the international creativity of “Chiantishire”, it’s the team that flanks U.S.-born, European-bred Frank and Tim Grace: the German estate director, Gerhard Hirmer, Italian winemaker Franco Bernabei, marketing manager Tiziano Vannoni, and Cellar Master, Giovanni Napolitano. At the same time, their wines speak with Tuscany’s own varietal accent. Another major principle at Il Molino di Grace is the pursuit of environment-friendly, organic and eco-sustainable criteria. As of the 2008 vintage, this estate finished its transition to 100% organic and is in the process of attaining certification. Frank Grace is explicit, “Our goal is crafting elegant wines that express their terroir through the Sangiovese grape. As such, our use of oak must be judicious: we want Sangiovese to dominate. Equally judicious is any outside intervention on the grapes or wines. We have the utmost respect for the land and for Tuscany’s rich winemaking tradition, and have chosen a sustainable, organic approach in the vineyards and winery."