Case Studies

The two case studies have been carried out following the abovementioned literature and aiming at focusing:

– A general picture of the wine farm and the history of the female managing

– Main issues of the winemaking and selling with a specific attention to sustainable goals

– The actual female contribution to the “organizational form” and innovation of the farm

– The interviewee's perception about the distinctive capabilities of a female managing

Fattoria del Colle, Interview to Mrs. Donatella Cinelli Colombini

The Fattoria del Colle farm is located in the municipality of Montalcino, province of Siena, and has a very long story and is linked to a famous and renowned red wine, the Brunello di Montalcino.

The first testimonies of the farm house have roots in the twelfth century. Over time, the whole real estate faced several changes and today has 336 ha lying on the hills in front of the village, where wines such as Brunello, Chianti Classico, and Nobile di Montepulciano have their historical growing place.

In 1998, Mrs. Donatella Cinelli Colombini inherited the farm house Fattoria del Colle, where she today manages 160 ha of cereals, 6 ha of olive tree yards, and 22 of vineyards, cultivating varieties of Sangiovese, Merlot, Traminer, and Foglia Tonda, which is an old vine, neglected for centuries. The Foglia Tonda variety remained in obscurity for a long time, but was rediscovered in the 1870s by Giuseppe Conti de Rovasenda, one of Italy's famous early ampelographers. It was finally admitted to Italy's Registro Nazionale delle Varieta` di Vite (national register of wine grape varieties) in May 1970, still being neglected. Today, one of Foglia Tonda's strongest advocates as a blending ingredient is the Donatella Cinelli Colombini winery, whose Sangiovese-based Cenerentola wine (Orcia DOC) includes a greater portion of Foglia Tonda with each vintage that passes.

Mrs. Donatella Cinelli Colombini was born in 1953 into a family of Brunello di Montalcino's producers. Today, she manages two wineries, the Fattoria del Colle and the Casato Prime Donne, in the municipality of Trequanda and Montalcino, respectively, both in the province of Siena.

This real estate pertained to the ancestors of Mrs. Donatella yet in 1592, and in more recent year, it has been owned by her grandmother and then by her mother Francesca and in the future will be inherited by her daughter Mrs. Violante Gardini, in an evident female line.

In 1993, Donatella Cinelli Colombini, daughter of Francesca, the “Lady of Brunello,” invented the first edition of Cantine aperte (Open Cellars) after the research proposed to Magda Antonioli Corigliano (1999) and the publication of the first identikit of wine tourists. Following this initiative, the Wine Tourism Movement took place in an increasing successful tendency over time. This specific feminine innovation was continued by Donatella Cinelli Colombini who started in 1998, the first Italian cellar with an entire female staff, the Casato Prime Donne, in Montalcino. In 2000, for the Christian Jubilee, Women of Wine presented “2,000 wines from Women of Wine,” and the same Woman of Wine in 2001 organized the first edition of Calici di Stelle (Calices of Stars) during the first decade of August.

“I had the duty from VIDE––Italian Excellence Vine-growers––to promote public relations, almost with no budget. I adopted a questionnaire for visitors of VIDE farms. I realized it was the very first time anyone entered such a survey. So I proposed the new event Cantine aperte (Open cellars). In 1998 I was searching for an enologist. All the male enologist graduated in Siena were employed by main producers, and there were many unemployed women. That's matched to my goal to have an entire female staff” (Donatella Cinelli Colombini).

The success of the movement and the associationism initiative has been clear, also due to the increasing interest about women's behavior in wine consuming. Today, the associated women are nearly up to 700. Young and trained women (with an academic degree in agriculture and enology) as associated members are increasing, and many women enter the world of wine not due to a family heritage but as a choice of life.

Within the family, Mrs. Donatella is the farm manager and is directly responsible for the communication. Her daughter, Mrs. Violante, is the executive sales manager for the wine.

“My Grandfather, Giovanni Colombini, was the person that influenced me more. He taught me the value of typical products, the importance to develop the entire supply chain up to the final consumer. Form pigs to the selling of cold cuts, from sheep to cheese, from vineyards to the exportation of our bottles with our brand. He was the first who opened the cellar to public visits, even starting a farm restaurant salami, still in the 80s” (Donatella Cinelli Colombini).

The total wine production of the winery is sold abroad for the 60 %, while the 24 % in Italy and the 16 % at the cellar. All the vineyards are grown organically even if not certified, and the farm benefits from solar panels for producing about a quarter of the total energy needs.

The entrepreneurial activity of Mrs. Donatella has also evident public facets, at the national level in the life of the Movimento delle Donne del Vino and at the local level being the President of the AOC Orcia Consortium, fostering the project “Orcia, the most beautiful wine in the world.” This initiative aims at transforming the million visitors of the area in the “Orcia wines” estimators and consumers.

In view of this goal, all the wineries will improve the linkages between landscaping and wine growing, building belvedere (beautiful panoramas), and hosting trekkers. The communication plan will be made by setting advertising totems in the car parkings, distributing a 100,000 of leaflets and 30,000 maps, and making a pushing Internet and social media marketing.

When Mrs. Donatella assumed the executive direction of the Fattoria del Colle, in 1998, within the village of Trequanda, there were no wineries, while today there are five. The publishing of a cooking recipes book as well as other continual initiatives of press office and public relations made the place more known and visible worldwide, inducing a tourist flux, encouraging other people to make investments and businesses.

In the area of Montalcino, the innovating action is less incisive than in that of the Orcia Valley, because the willing to innovate is less strong, probably due to the well-developed brand of the territory in comparison to the last one. Nevertheless, the Benvenuto Brunello (Welcome Brunello) event, which takes place every year in February, presenting to the press the new wines on the market since the beginning of the new year, has been welcomed by everyone.

In concluding the narrative of Mrs. Donatella Cinelli Colombini, a peculiar finding must be underscored about the idea of a “specific female organizational form” of the enterprise, as perceived by her:

“The 'female' managing is little centralized and very flexible. There is a very high propensity to reconcile personal needs with the business. Every decision and initiative is the result of a team effort and a collective 'laboratory of ideas.' We invest in the training and external partnerships that can bring innovation.”

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