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Mormoraia
by
Terry Sullivan

Summary: Mormoraia is a beautiful 173-acre estate that has modern wine making equipment and has apartments and rooms to rent. The estate is about seven kilometers from San Gimignano a walled city often referred to as the medieval Manhattan. The location of Mormoraia makes this an excellent location to spend a week or two traveling the country roads to the many sites including wineries in the area.

Mormoria, ItalyThe entrance is well marked with a sign and a red wagon wheel. Olive trees flank the gravel driveway with vineyards just on the other side of these trees. Some grapes were still noticeable hanging on the vines in late October. The harvesters did not select these grapes when harvesting grapes for producing wine.  Almost 75 acres of grapes are planted on the rolling hills surrounding the estate. The grape varieties include Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. There are 25 acres of olive trees producing olives for making extra virgin olive oil.

We rented one of the apartments for two weeks. The design of the apartment was in the Tuscan style highlighting brick and stone floors, walls and ceilings with gentle arches. Our apartment had two bedrooms with baths, a fully equipped kitchen, dining room and living room. Mormoraia has seven apartments for rent and three private rooms with bathrooms.  The apartment made an excellent retreat from the modern hotel room.

Mormoraia and San GimignanaLodging at Mormoraia is a memorable experience. It provides an escape from the fast paced world and allows you time to slow down and appreciate the environment. The views from the property are amazing. You can readily make out San Gimignano in the distance with its towers thrusting into the sky. Grapevines and olive trees cover many of the gentle rolling hills. You can spend hours ambling through the vineyards. At the time of our visit, the olives on the olive trees were at different stages of verasion. Harvesting the olives began the last week of October 2007.

Originally, the building our apartment was in was a convent. Stables next to the convent are now the reception room and wine tasting area. A church was up the hill from the stables. An old photograph showed large wine tanks in one of the areas of the convent. It serves as a reminder that wine was part of the daily diet accounting for many of the calories.

The word Mormoraia means to murmur or speak in low voices, a reminder of the nuns who once walked the halls and property. The owners Giuseppe and Franca Passoni purchased the land and buildings in 1980. They spent 15 years restoring the buildings. Mormoraia began producing wine commercially in the mid 1990’s.

stainless steel tankswood barrelsThe winery (cantina) is in a new three-section building just a short walk from the apartments. It features a modern production area with stainless steel tanks in one section, and oak barrels used for aging wines in another section. A bottling machine is in one of the three sections of the building. Unlike many wineries we have observed that seem too small for the building, this winery has plenty of room to expand.

Mormoraia now produces seven wines. If you are interested in a wine tasting, they will be free starting in 2008. We purchased three bottles, which were reasonably priced, and paired the wines with dinner. Mormoraia produces an average of 18,000 cases of wine each year and distributes most of it to the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Vernaccia Di San Gimignano DOCG 2006 is made from the Vernaccia grape. It is a light yellow color and has a slight fruit nose. It has a fruit taste and is dry with a crisp finish. Although the Vernaccia grape may be planted elsewhere, this is the only appellation that is permitted to use the title Vernaccia Di San Gimignano. Ostrea Grigia 2004 is a blend of Vernaccia. It has a pale yellow color and hint of fruit on the bouquet and fruit on the taste. It is dry and the aftertaste is green apples. Ostrea Grigia pared very well with cheese. The Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG 2006 is made from the Sangiovese grape. It has a ruby red color. The bouquet is black cherries and raisins and the wine has a dark fruit taste. The wine was crisp and palate cleansing. It pared well with Italian foods.

If you are planning on visiting San Gimignano for a week or more you may want to consider staying at Mormoraia. For us it was a good place to stay and take day trips to other areas in Tuscany.

GPS: N43° 30.097' E011° 03.171'


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