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The Hostess

An interview with Mary Shea, our hostess at Querceto di Castellina 

13th of November 2023

Article by  Gili Biegun


G:Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to own and operate a vineyard in the heart of Chianti? 
M: My Italian husband, Jacopo Di Battista, and his family have owned this picturesque estate since 1945 but it wasn’t until 1998 that Jacopo founded the winery and began his adventure in the wine world. Jacopo and I actually met 10 years ago at a “Friendsgiving” weekend in Napa/Sonoma in California and as you can say, the rest is history. I decided to move to Tuscany about 2 years later and started working together with his family at Querceto. 

G: Hosting international guests in a vineyard sounds like a dream come true. What inspired you to open your vineyard to visitors from around the world? 
M:Over the past 8 years it’s been incredible to see the community we’ve created with guests from all over the world. At the beginning the decision to open up the vineyard to visitors was certainly a business decision but it’s completely changed and expanded our worlds and that’s really the beauty and the gift of what working in the wine and hospitality space has given to me, my husband and the rest of the family. 

G:Chianti is known for its picturesque landscapes and world-renowned wines. How does the beauty of your vineyard contribute to the overall experience for your guests? 
M: It contributes a great deal to the overall experience. I personally think Querceto has one of the most stunning vineyard views I’ve ever seen, and it certainly takes people’s breath away when they visit. 8 years later and I’m still blown away by it!

G:What can guests expect when they visit your vineyard? Could you describe a typical day or experience for someone staying at your property? 
M: If you’re staying in one of our lovely vacation apartments, you’ll wake up and enjoy coffee and breakfast with a vineyard view. Let’s say it’s during the summer and you can spend a lazy morning poolside and then wander up to the winery terrace and enjoy a wine tasting lunch or bites at our Livia Wine & Cheese Bar. There are a number of wonderful little towns and other wineries to visit in the area if you’d like to venture out. We do not have restaurant and are typically closed in the evenings unless you’ve timed your visit with one of our

monthly vineyard dinners during the summer months. 

G: Italy is famous for its culinary delights. Can you share some of the authentic Italian food and wine experiences that your guests can enjoy during their stay? 
M: It doesn’t get more authentic than taking a Tuscan cooking class with my mother-in-law Laura. She’s been doing cooking classes for over 20 years and is the quintessential Italian grandma and loves sharing her recipes and stories. Our wine tasting lunches are also an ideal way to experience true Tuscan cuisine, hospitality and our organic wines. 

G: Hosting international guests must come with its challenges. What are some of the unique challenges you’ve faced in providing this kind of hospitality? 
M: Oh goodness. We’ve been rather lucky in that one of our biggest challenges is managing our growth while at the same time trying to maintain the highly personalized approach we take towards everything that we do at Querceto. We always want everyone who visits us to feel incredibly well-taken care of and have had to learn to say no at times to make sure of this. 

G: Can you share a memorable story or experience from hosting guests in your vineyard that stands out to you? 
M: Our Vineyard Dinners always stand out to me. There is something so magical about these evenings and bringing guests together from all over the world to wine and dine at our seemingly endless table in our Livia white wine vineyard. These events hold a particular place in my heart because they’ve given me the opportunity to collaborate with incredible creatives, artists, musicians and florists and not to mention showcase the culinary genius of our restaurant partner, Albergaccio di Castellina - another family-run business.

G: Do you have any upcoming projects or plans for your vineyard that you’d like to share with our readers? 
M: My husband is a big dreamer, as am I, so we definitely have some upcoming projects. We’ll be launched a new wine in the very near future and are always thinking of new and unique experiences that we can share with everyone. 2023 also happens to be the 25th Anniversary of the winery so we’re celebrating this important milestone this year. 

G: Finally, what message or experience do you hope your guests take away from their visit to your Chianti vineyard? 
M: We are thrilled when our guests say their visit to Querceto was one of the highlights or the highlight of their trip - whether they stayed at the estate, did a wine tasting, cooking class, joined for a vineyard dinner or came for a wedding celebration (we also host weddings at the estate!). We want them to walk away with beautiful memories and stories that they hopefully will want to share with their friends and family. 

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