Chronology 1980 – 1989
In 1980 the Widmers travel to Tuscany for a Christmas visit. Bruno Widmer immediately falls in love with the Brancaia hill. “From the house of our friend Ruedi Bettschart we saw this beautiful piece of earth,” he recalls. “The whole area was covered in morning fog, but Brancaia was in the sun. A magical sight! ” So it is a good thing that the previous owner from Great Britain wants to give up the estate. The farmer who tended the vineyards for him has died, he himself is in his seventies. Brigitte Widmer is initially skeptical. But today she says: “Brancaia means a lot to me – and more every day.”
In 1983 the new stocking of the vineyards in Castellina heralds a new era for Bruno and Brigitte Widmer. At the same time, four lovingly renovated holiday apartments are being built in the old manor house on the Brancaia hill. There is also progress in terms of personnel: The Widmers are hiring their first permanent employee.
In 1986 Brancaia won a blind tasting of Chianti Classico from 1983 organized by the Swiss wine magazine “Vinum” – and suddenly everyone was talking about it. “An absolute stroke of luck,” says Brigitte Widmer. “The jury’s astonishment,” she continues, “was so great that some people asked for another tasting. The wine merchant, who had campaigned for our Chianti to be tasted at all, prevented that. “
In 1989 the Widmers bought a 53 hectare property on the Poppi site in Radda. Its vineyards are completely neglected, but also completely surrounded by forest – and therefore predestined for ecological viticulture. The house that stands there looks like a ruin, has neither electricity nor running water. The tool shed is a stroke of luck: it gives the new owner couple from Switzerland the opportunity to apply for a building permit for their own cellar. Parallel to these events, the first Brancaia team with six employees is formed. Forty today.
1981 Bruno and Brigitte Widmer acquire the property on the Brancaia hill in Castellina. Although the house is in dire need of renovation and the 20 hectare site is actually much too big. An adventurous undertaking. Initially, Brancaia is just a holiday home for the Widmers. But one with four hectares of vineyards. It should be possible to produce first-class wine here that reflects the character of the region, they soon think. The first harvest follows that same year. The production of quality wine starts with the know-how of the infrastructure of the Mazzei family. “Because the vineyards on the Brancaia hill have always been completely surrounded by forest, we never had to fear that spray from our neighbors would reach us – an extremely important point in organic viticulture,” explains Barbara Widmer looking back.
In 1988, Brancaia first produced Il Blu, the composition of which did not meet the guidelines for a Chianti Classico. Bruno and Brigitte Widmer are not deterred by the fact that the predecessor of the IL BLU is only considered a Vino da tavola. Like other ambitious producers, they are convinced that it is not the categorization that counts, but the taste. And they are right: soon the English-speaking lovers of the complex and rich treasures are talking admiringly of the “Super Tuscans”. But the year 1988 brought another very important innovation for Brancaia: the unique label was created. Bruno Widmer asked a graphic designer from his advertising agency to work out a series of drafts. When these are finished, one of them immediately catches his eye. The letters of the word “Brancaia” and the four numbers of the vintage are arranged on it in the square that can be seen on every bottle of the winery to this day.