Updated: Jun 10, 2022
Ornellaia was originally the brainchild of Marchese Lodovico Antinori, of the famed Antinori wine producers and vintners. The estate is situated in Bolgheri on the Tuscan coast.
Marchese Lodovico, the younger brother of Marchese Piero Antinori purchased the estate in 1981, after receiving a substantial inheritance from this mother’s family.
His vision was to make quality wines from Bordeaux grape varieties. A further land purchase called Bellaria was added a short time after, again planting using Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc.This parcel of land was a very important purchase, because today some of the oldest vines are situated here, naturally making an invaluable contribution to the Ornellaia of recent and past great vintages.
One can only be speculative as to what the motivation for this adventure, but consider adjacent to the estate of Ornellaia is Tenuta San Guido, better known as the estate of Sassicaia, owned by Marchese Nicolò Incisa Della Rocchetta, his cousin. So with brother and cousin making names for themselves in the newly revived Italian wine industry, perhaps the urge to join in the family business spurred Lodovico into action, another way to describe this is amicable ‘sibling rivalry’.
As Ornellaia’s reputation grew around the wine world, the American wine mogul Robert Mondavi went a little further than most interested parties and purchased a stake in the Italian winery.
This initial investment grew substantially in 2001, when Lodovico was forced to sell Ornellaia to Mondavi, because of financial pressures. Mondavi then set up a joint venture with the Frescobaldi family on a 50/50 basis. The Frescobaldi family being another great wine power house i