A unique microclimate and geography
Potentino lies in a sheltered valley farmed since Etruscan times. It is home to centuries-old olive trees and some early examples of the Sangiovese grape variety. This continuous tradition of cultivation still exists today. Industrial farming has not affected the area and the landscape remains similar to when the castle was built. It lies below Monte Amiata, an extinct volcano that last erupted between 180,000 and 300,000 years ago, creating an exceptional terroir.
During the day, the valley is well ventilated by hot dry air drawn off the sea and coastal plains; at night, it is cooled by air coming down from the mountain. Its well-protected bowl-like shape acts like a crucible ensuring that the volcanic matter is gathered and blended. There is an abundant supply of water. It is known locally as ‘La Conca D’Oro’ – The Golden Basin – as it is so fertile.
With its mineral-rich, geologically new soil and extreme changes in temperature, Potentino is the ideal location to make fine, elegant wines and delicately flavoured olive oil. It is a place where many local traditions and practices have survived, reflecting a symbiosis based on observation and respect, sensibility and discipline. The valley illustrates good land husbandry, which involves a delicate balance between human intervention and the surrounding micro-life.
There is no monoculture or industrial crop-spraying in the valley, which results in an abundance of flora and fauna, including some rare species of bird, insect and plant life. A wide range of native varieties, including apple, pear, cherry, and quince grow alongside olive groves of the indigenous Olivastra Seggianese variety. Wild flowers and orchids fill the fields in early summer. These are all elements that create a healthy and vigorous ecosystem – extremely rare in this day and age. This is why the Potentino Valley Project (PVP) believes it should be saved.