Simone is a thoroughly engaging individual. He has the humor and energy of Roberto Benigni coupled with a dedication to his farm that truly borders on the obsessive. He developed a reputation for his dogmatism in a local town - San Gimignano - when his friends and neighbors discovered that during the harvest of olives and grapes, he would often be found sleeping in his cantina to better monitor his precious juice.
Formally trained as an oenologist, Simone's farm is biologically certified by the local government - a rigorous 5-year process that has highly exacting standards.
Simone just about single handedly runs his operation. His ability to accomplish this Sisyphean task is greatly aided by several years spent working on a racing team, invaluable for improving his time getting around the farm - albeit on a tractor!
The farm - Tenuta La Calcinaie - is at a high altitude and the soil in which the olive grove is planted is the same as that at Montecastelli™ - the favored volcanic ash known as "tufo." Similarities between the two stop here, however, and the flavors of the oils are remarkably different. The altitude means that in order to attain the same physiological ripeness, the olives must stay on the trees longer. Simone prefers a more gripping, spicy flavored oil and therefore picks his olives before this stage. In this, he follows Pliny, who believed that the finest oils to be produced were from unripe olives.
He uses predominantly Frantoio olives, which typically provide freshness and tartness, and very little Leccino, which is responsible for the fatness and richness in Tuscan olive oil.
The hill town of San Gimignano