The Gentle Women of Faenza, Italy
I had a wonderful opportunity to visit a winery while on my visit to the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It still amazes me that a woman, Ruenza Santandrea, is the “Presidente” of Gruppo Cevico vini Romagnoli, the company that owns this winery in the area of Castel Bolognese called Tenuta Masselina. And soon I will tell you why.
Ceramic Logo of Prestigious Wine
It all had to do with the ceramic label. I was fascinated by this ceramic logo on the gorgeous wine bottles of the more prestigious wines at Tenuta Masselina, so I had to do a little research on them to find out more about their fascinating history and the history of the little girl, now Presidente Ruenza Santandrea.
Faenza Ceramic Factory
As it turns out, Ms. Ruenza, is from a small village not too far from the vineyard named Faenza. This is where there has been a ceramics factory since the first century BC. The reason for this is the activity related to the clays of the river Lamone on the banks of the village Faenza. This clay is a special kind of richly colored ceramic called “glazed faience” or “majolica”. The process of making majolica includes applying the tin enamel to a fired piece of earthenware, forming a white, opaque, porous surface on which a design is painted.
The quality of this glazed pottery is made opaque by oxides from the tin it contains. The very name “faience” comes from the Romans who developed this region and has become synonymous with ceramics (majolica) in various languages, including French and English. And this is where Ms. Ruenza grew up.
Ceramic Wine Labels
Ms. Ruenza had this idea to create these ceramic labels to represent the gentlewomen from the small village that she was from. These ceramic “labels” on the bottles are reproductions of the “gentlewomen” or faces of the women during the Renaissance period, known as “Delle Gentili Donne di Faenza”, which means “gentlewomen of Faenza”. She wanted to pay homage to the women she learned about as a little girl.
Each ceramic label is made by hand in Faenza. Each bottle has the face of one woman with the name shortened to the last initial to pay homage to these young women. Such as Bella T. or Lucia B., each with a front-facing bust, but the face in the profile is facing left. These paintings depict women as a gesture of courtesy, love, or nuptial homage. These are idealized conceptions of women and their faces are as expressed commonly used by the Italian majolica during the Renaissance period.
Renaissance Faenza Pottery
The Manfredi family, which ruled Faenza in the 14th and 15th centuries, enriched the ceramic with works of art and architecture, including buildings from the Renaissance-style Cathedral, the Governor’s Palace, and the International Museum of Ceramics. It is this museum that now houses pieces from all over the world, where there is a rich section that is dedicated to Faenza pottery during the golden age of the Renaissance.
Tenuta Masselina Winery
So you can see the great influence that was put on this little girl Ruenza Santandrea growing up in a village rich in culture and history of the ceramics. It makes sense that she would now as a grown woman, use this as the “label” for her specialty line of wines at Tenuta Masselina.
And not only that, this winery sits at the precise point of the where Romagna and Emilia meet (this the collision of the Byzantine and the Longobard cultures).
Terroir of Wine
At more than 150 meters above sea level, it is the ideal exposure for many hours of sunshine, yet cool temperatures for the grapes to percolate. The vines planted here are Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon for the red grapes and Chardonnay, Trebbiano, and Pignoletto for white.
Sangiovese is a very popular red wine from this region, that I heard repeatedly during my visit there.
Rich Roman History
With its rich history of the Romans producing wine 10,000 years ago, as during this time it was a very important drink for the soldiers, especially since water was scared. The employees of the winery believe that most likely, their wine was “bad wine, almost like vinegar.”Since that time, wineries have used the oak and clay techniques available today to create such magnificent wines that we know today.
It is the reflection of these age-old traditions, culture, religious inspiration, and evolutions that the wines of Tenuta Masselina are produced. Each one with its own particularly shaped bottle, depending on which grape was used.
It was a lovely day at the winery in Castel Bolognese!
The Wine Style Asia Award 2010:
- 147 Chardonnay won the silver medal for still white wine class under $8.00
- Masselina Sangiovese Reserva 2008 won the silver medal for Reserva class over $15.00.
I would like to thank Ruenza Santandrea, Ricardo Castaldi, and Marco Nannelti for a wonderful day spent at the winery learning the history and terroir of these wines.
Tuscany Region, Italy:
Lazio Region, Italy:
Campagna Region, Italy:
Emilia-Romagna Region, Italy:
Veneto Region, Italy:
Puglia Region, Italy:
Liguria Region, Italy:
Le Marche Region, Italy:
Calabria Region, Italy:
Disclosure: This post was a part of the Buonvivere Blog Tour, organized by Settimana del Buonvivere in collaboration with 21grammy.