When he attended the University of Agriculture, he did not have wine on his mind. Projects and dreams projected him elsewhere, in the middle of a dry and distant land. Other than Chianti Classico. In his twenties Andrea Paoletti was an idealist, determined to join the FAO and fly to Africa to defeat world hunger. It did not turn out that way, however. On the tail end of his university career, he met some young men who, upon returning from the African continent, painted him in no uncertain terms a less than encouraging situation. "There is nothing to be done, it is impossible to change things." For days and weeks Andrea was deeply disappointed. Then partly by instinct and partly by geography he decided to jump into the world of wine and become a winemaker.
It was a choice of continuity. Paoletti is a Chianti native of San Casciano. From an early age, from spending summers building tree sheds, he learned to appreciate and love the countryside, the outdoors. As he himself admits, he would not have survived doing a desk job. Instead, dividing his time between rows of vines, terraces and more cellars, cooperages, tastings and thoughtful blends turned out to be the happy fulfillment of a destiny that was perhaps already written. Making wine soon becomes a gift for oneself and for others. The instrument to play one's own music and leave a trace.
It was 1995 when he began working as a consultant for Pieve di Campoli, an agricultural company that since 1985 has brought together the real estate and land with an agricultural vocation of the Archdiocese of Florence for an extension of over 100 hectares. For Paoletti, it was a new beginning to be tackled with the experience gathered over the years and with the awareness that nature is master and governable up to a certain point, that all years have problems, that there are good and bad periods, and the only thing to do is to work with what the land offers, making the most of the characteristics of the various years. "Already at that time, the winemaking heritage of the company was quite significant," he explains, "we had some old vineyards over 50 years old that were not economically viable because they produced little, but interesting in terms of quality. With patience we started by enhancing what we already had, aware that in agriculture it takes at least five years to realise an idea”. And so, the company, which until then had limited itself to supplying grapes to important companies in the area, began its adventure as a wine producer and bottler. The Pieve di Campoli brand was born and under its label the first wines were produced: a Chianti Classico Riserva and Vin Santo, which until then the company had produced exclusively for parish priests.
For the past few years, Andrea has held the position of director of the agrarian company and has launched, in concert with the board of directors and the general manager, a production strategy that aims to make Pieve di Campoli an excellence, a point of reference in Chianti Classico, a company that has not only a commercial value but also a social value through a focus on work, sustainability and the territory while maintaining its founding characteristics. He is shy and reluctant to set a tone, even though he has been and continues to be an authoritative consultant to important brands and that several big names have come knocking at his door. These include a certain Francis Ford Coppola, the famous American film director, but also a wine producer in Napa Valley. There is little more to say. Paoletti is a high-ranking oenologist, but he does not inflate, he remains humble and has no problem telling how part of his success and his story can be attributed to the encounters he has made, the teachings he has received, the comparison and dialogue with the great masters.
A deep gratitude that accompanies him every day. "I have received so much and that is why I always try to pass something on to the people I work with. In this profession teaching is not easy. It is a long process that requires not only time but also a certain sensitivity and affinity on the part of the person. But when I realise that my experience is helping someone to grow both humanly and professionally, I feel more serene." And so, between the serious and the joking he adds. "I am 65 years old, I know that sooner or later I will have to retire, so when I finish doing this job, I want to have even the slightest certainty that my knowledge has reached someone. It would be sad not to leave anything behind". But everyone in Pieve di Campoli knows that this is unlikely to happen. Andrea's authoritative experience has made it possible to trace a path, to start a journey whose first shoots are already visible, ready to make their way and conquer more and more space.