Edited by Mauro Bucci

In the past, the common people in our villages generally drank watery wine, which was the second or third pressing of grapes, but at the time we were great producers of wine in our territory.

The Grand Duke Peter Leopold (son of Maria Theresa and future Holy Roman Emperor) came to Castiglioni in 1775 and wrote: “a half a mile over there is Castiglione d’Orcia, rising on a mount with its 400 souls; up there are superb cultivations of vines, such as in the lands around Florence...”

These superb vines were the result of a town policy that had started back in the 15th century.

The town of Castiglioni gifted two parcels of land “this side of Onsola” to everyone who wanted to plant a vineyard but had not sufficient land.

Therefore, the vineyards were on the slope just below the village, exposed towards Val d’Orcia.

At La Rocca, we know about vines in the zone of Fernali (which was at the crossway near to the old bakery) on the slope facing the Perelli lands.

To stimulate production, wine could not be brought in from outside the town area, unless the Council deliberated otherwise and punishments were meted out to those who stole vines or even just the vineyard posts.

Wine production were strictly controlled. At Castiglioni and La Rocca, harvest was not allowed to begin before the feast of S. Angelo in September.

There was one interesting exception, and this gives an indication about the quality of grapes used by our forefathers. Muscadelle grapes could be harvested eight days earlier. The white grape is used to produce an excellent white wine, Moscadello, which is now a DOC in the area of Montalcino.

At Castiglioni, wine could be sold by anyone, in any place and at whatever price they wanted, but they had to pay a duty of two soldi (pennies) per lira. From 1491, the people of Castiglioni were allowed to sell wine to those of La Rocca without paying any duties.

Small retailers who sold wine could also sell bread, cheese and salad without paying other taxes. There were not allowed to sell cooked food, as this was the prerogative of the taverns.

Here, wine was sold in correct measures, sealed in small containers or glass bottles.

They could not sell two varieties of wine at the same time, and could only pour “one scarlet and one white”.

These taverns were not allowed to sell wine during night-time or in the mornings of the main holidays, and if they did both inn-keeper and customer were fined.