azienda agricola urlari


Farming & Viticulture

Our vineyard is ideally situated overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the interior rolling hills of Tuscany …


Urlari is located in the hills of Riparbella, in Tuscany’s coastal Maremma region, 4 miles/6.5 K from the Mediterranean Sea and 12 miles/19K north of Bolgheri in an area of Tuscany known as the Etruscan Coast.  While not as well known as Bolgheri, several large estates have planted to vine in Riparbella in the past few years to take advantage of the rich soil and the elevations, including by the Ferragamo family and Caiarossa.


The altitude of the field ranges from 720 feet to 800 feet above sea level. The consistent decline of 20 degrees in the slope allows the water to roll off the soil. The field was previously used as a sheep’s pasture and the field profits from the years of natural fertilization. There are no other producers in the area which, when combined with the strong and frequent winds, means that there is no pollution and limited possibility that diseases from neighboring vineyards will spread to Urlari. On a good year, Urlari is nearly organic.


The climate is classically Mediterranean: sunny year-round with mild winters, dry summers and modest amounts of rain. Only occasionally will winter temperatures fall below 32F. Urlari’s elevation allows for temperature variances of up to 26 degrees between day and night; maximum temperatures can reach 86F and minimums range between 50-59F. These significant temperature variances contribute to producing a more resilient, intense fruit. Positioned on a hilltop, the sun rolls over it from sunrise to sunset, providing constant sunlight and the field benefits the cooling effect of ventilation from the strong winds.


Prior to purchasing the 25 acre plot, Roberto hired a geologist to run tests including sampling various slopes at 20, 40 and 60 inches that showed the soils were a relatively consistent heterogeneous mix with a predominance of clay, silt and sand along with traces of calcium, nitrogen, magnesium, zinc, copper, sodium, iron and phosphorus. Drainage was rated excellent due to 20 degree slopes and 30% pebbles. The geologist assigned a rating of 9.5 out of a possible 10 to describe the suitability for vineyards.

Dense Planting

Urlari was densely planted with the Darwinian objective that only the strong survive to achieve the most intense fruit. The density of planting means that the plants must “fight” with each other for water, nutrients and sun and the vines produce smaller berries with higher skin-to-juice raios, and thus more intense flavors and aromas. A total of 15 acres are under vine with 3,333 plants per acre. The distance between the rows is 5’3″.


roots being trimmedRoberto hired an agronomist from the University of Florence who, with an agent from the VCR FRANCE Nursery, selected the phylloxera-resistant rootstock best suited to the soil profile and varietals he wanted. In 2006, he imported from France and planted 10,500 Sangiovese vines on a southeastern-facing slope, and imported 10,000 Cabernet Sauvignon, 9,500 Cabernet Franc, 10,000 Merlot and 5,000 Alicante Bouschet plants on eastern facing slopes.
In 2007 he imported additional vines from France: 3,500 Petit Verdot planted on a southwest facing slope and 1,500 Merlot planted facing east, bringing the vineyard total to 50,000 vines.

Vineyard Management

2 permanent field workers maintain the field year-round; each and every vine is managed by hand so that the workers can assess the health and individual needs of each plant. The Petit Verdot vines and 50% of the Merlot are guyot-trained; all other vines are trained in the spurred cordon method. Roberto monitors rainfall each year and manages the grass that grows between the rows accordingly for drainage. The field workers prune, thin shoots and pull leaves for balance throughout the vineyard so that all the grapes have uniform ripening and optimum maturity. The yield of each plant is managed to ensure the concentration, complexity and quality of the grape clusters. The vines are pruned for an optimal weight of 2.2 – 2.6 lbs per plant; this will vary by varietal.

The Harvest

From early September on, clusters of each varietal are analyzed at a laboratory near Bolgheri. Extra workers are hired when sugars, acidity and pH are assessed at optimal levels so that 100% of each varietal are picked in a single day. Clusters are transported to the cantina in 33 pound plastic crates built to prevent crushing when stacked.