After sitting down and speaking with Enrico Santini for an afternoon, I am now convinced there is not a person on the planet who could better embody the meaning of the word humble. He is a superstar of Bolgheri, his wines continually placed side-by-side with the greats of Sassicaia and Ornellaia, but according to him, he’s just a guy who makes some wine because it’s what he loves to do. “If I look back at when I was young, I never thought I would be able to bring my bottles of wine around the world.”

He started vinifying wine in his garage and storing it in his “cellar” – his basement – dubbing the term garagiste.  He came from no background in the wine industry, from family with no wine history, but he knew that this was what he wanted to be doing. “I want to understand my land, my mission, my talent,” he says. “I watched what other estates were doing. That’s why I planted Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. But I did not give up on Sangiovese, and then there was Syrah. I fell in love with Syrah, so I planted it.” He planted every single vine himself, too.  Speaking of Bolgheri, he says, “The place that I was born was too important for the wine business for me not to take this challenge.”

“I knew immediately that what I was doing was truly me.”

“I don’t want to make just ‘another’ wine. I don’t want to be Sassicaia, Ornellaia…I can make it the wine just the way I like it, ” Enrico says, speaking to his size and production level, a fraction of the well-known names of Bolgheri. This size allows him the exact level of control he wants, allows him to touch every vine, craft every wine himself. “You have to know personally every single vine, every single barrel, and just be there and be in a position where you let them speak to you.  I really learned by doing,” he says. “I knew immediately that what I was doing was truly me. It makes me myself.”

The evolution of his labels mirrors his evolution as a winemaker as well. Speaking of when he first started, “I have no castle, no chateau. I had no family seal or history with wine, so when I chose my labels, my wife and I chose a painting.” They chose The Angelus by Jean-Francois Millet, which depicts a farmer and his wife at dusk in their fields, with their heads bowed, giving thanks. He says that this sentiment not only resonates with him, but guides him every day. “At the end, you must give thanks. To God, to the universe, to nature, to spirit, to whatever you feel needs it; just give thanks.” This year, we’ll see a new iteration of the labels revealed. “This farmer and wife has basically become my logo.”

“I just want to make one less mistake than the year before.”


They have simplified it a touch, no longer showing the painting itself, instead just a silhouette of the farmer and wife standing near a grapevine, with their heads still bowed in thanks, leaving whoever is drinking the bottle wondering if the silhouette is Enrico himself. “I changed up the name on the label a bit as well.” It now reads ‘Santini Vignaiolo’. “I took off Enrico, and just let it say Santini so that in the future, I can pass my love along. And Vignaiolo, this is very important to me. It is like the French ‘vignerons’; it is my identity.  My job during all the years, months, weeks, days is just to try to produce the best. I just want to make one less mistake than the year before.”

And even still with all of his success, and his amazing wines being drank worldwide, the thing that still permeates everything? His humility. “You don’t get wine like this in one hand if in the other you don’t have the terroir, the rain, the sun… This is not you. This just happens. You have to be patient and good not to destroy what nature gave you.”

Recommended Posts