Le Fonti is a small boutique winery producing about 40-50,000 bottles a year. Since 1994 Le Fonti is in the hands of the Schmitt-Vitali family. From the harvest to the final blend, we depend on family manpower and sophisticated taste.
All vineyards have been replanted since 1994, taking great care to select the right type of plants with the correct rootstock. We have also renovated and extended the cellars.
Le Fonti’s vineyards are situated just below the village of Panzano, resembling a horseshoe-shape around the winery. Since 1994 all the vineyards have been replanted with selected rootstocks and plants adapted to our area, elevation and soil type.
The vineyards are farmed sustainably to save the integrity of the environment. We strongly believe that a great wine starts in the vineyard and thus take meticulous care of our vines and select only the best grapes for the cellar.
The vineyards are planted on a mixed soil of gravel, schist, limestone, sand and clay – a soil mixture also known as Galestro. The composition of soil differs throughout the property and our vines are planted to use this to their best advantage.
Overall we have almost 85% Sangiovese vines, with the remainder equally divided between Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vines.
A year in the vineyard starts right after the harvest. Around the middle of October we add a variety of seeds (from rocket, grass, red beets, beans to barley and rape seeds) to every second row in the vineyards.
During germination the seeds aerate the soil and in spring the plants are cut down and incorporated into the soil as fertilizer.
During the winter months the vines are pruned back as well as the olives. With the arrival of spring, a selection of the first shots is made and the new plants start to get trained between the wires. While the plants continue to grow during the summer, the new branches have to be constantly “retrained” between the wires to keep them in place. Once a certain height is reached further canopy growth is discouraged to ensure that the plant’s energy is concentrated on the grapes and not leaf growth.
As soon as the grapes start changing color, usually around August, it is time for the green harvest. This means extra bunches will be cut off ensuring a better quality selection and a faster ripening in time for harvest.
By mid to end September we begin with the harvest for the Merlot grapes and in October the Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are picked. After that it starts all over again….
Harvest at Le Fonti is always done manually and with great care to ensure only healthy and fully ripened grapes are selected and find their way into the cellar. The grapes are transported in small 15-20 kg cases to keep them in their best condition until arrival at the cellar.
At the cellar the grapes are destemmed and another selection is made. The destemmed grapes are then pumped into small to medium stainless steel fermentation tanks for a cold soaking for 2-3 days before the fermentation starts. Whenever possible we let the grapes start fermentation on their own with their own indigenous yeasts. Within the first 36-48 hours we bleed off 10-15% of the juices from all Sangiovese tanks, a process also called “Salasso”. The bled-off juice continues to ferment in a cold environment as a white wine would without any further skin contact. The outcome is a wonderful fresh and fruity Rosé. But we do not only practice the salasso method to make some great Rosé, but also to increase the skin to must ratio which brings out a higher colour concentration in the red wines.
3-4 times a day the still-fermenting must is pumped over the skins to extract all the colour pigments, tannins and aroma particles from the skins. After 20-25 days the first fermentation phase is finished and the finished wine is run off. The skins get lightly pressed and are brought for further processing to the famous distillery Nannoni where our grappa is distilled.
Meanwhile the wines go through a secondary fermentation, also called malolactic fermentation, where malic acid is transformed into milk acid, helping the red wine to get softer tannins. This secondary fermentation is usually finished by December and by January we can start making our blends and the wines are pumped into their various barrels for further aging.