Our Story

Inspired by my love affair with Italy, we purchased Podere Erica in 2005 with the goal of enjoying and sharing with others the true Italian way of life - La Dolce Vita. 

Finding the perfect property in Tuscany proved a great challenge!  We made several trips a year for over 3 years. We were shown dilapidated villas in Florence, a property where they were selling only half of the house, a house in Greve which the caretaker was trying to sell without the knowledge of the owner, a deserted farmhouse that had been overtaken by weeds and wild animals, and an unfinished farmhouse overlooking a gas station. 

We were beginning to get discouraged! Finally, after viewing over 40 properties with almost as many real estate agents, we found, through a friend, the perfect property. Great location, gorgeous views, spacious farmhouse, plenty of land, grape vines, olive trees, and a pool.

Of course, the house needed restoration. In 2009, we completed an extensive remodel of the house, providing modern amenities while maintaining its rustic farmhouse character. 

In addition to our efforts to create a perfect vacation spot, producing great wine also requires much investment and attention. In 2009, we hired Marco Giordano, a young graduate from Florence University School of Enology to manage the farm and the winemaking.  With passion and fortitude, Marco is realizing our dream to produce fantastic wines that are true to both the terroir and the tradition of winemaking in Chianti. By employing organic and biodynamic processes in the vineyard and in the cantina, Marco protects the health of our land while ensuring that our wines are safer for us to drink (no added chemicals and low levels of sulfites).

​In 2017, we completed the construction of our new “cantina” or wine cellar complete with a tasting room.  In 2018, we planted another hectare of grape vines, which will soon double our production. And in 2017, we added a small production of Mangalitsa pigs.  Exciting times are ahead for Podere Erica.

Whether you have the opportunity to visit our little corner of paradise called Podere Erica, or you experience Italy vicariously through my "Accidental Italian" blog, I am excited to be sharing with you some of the things that I love about Italy.

-Jan Dempsey

Jan & Neal Dempsey

Marco Giordano, Winemaker

Marco received his graduate degree from the University of Florence in Viticulture and Enology. He also completed a course at APAB Biodynamic Viticulture of Florence (Demeter collaborator) and a course in modern biodynamic viticulture.

He has participated in various apprenticeships at local wineries during his studies and after graduation. He worked at a nearby vineyard, Poggio al Sole, performing tasks in both the cellar and the vineyard and gained first-hand knowledge of organic vineyard management by leasing land to grow his own grapes.

At Podere Erica, he has the opportunity to pursue his passion for natural wine production and apply his knowledge and experiences to create high-quality wines in a natural and organic manner from the vineyard to the cellar.

Lori Hetherington, Greeter

Originally from California, Lori Hetherington has lived in Italy for over 30 years and has been welcoming our guests to Podere Erica since 2011. She works primarily as an Italian-English translator on a wide range of projects, for example on scientific articles  regarding wine and agriculture, as well as various types of fiction and non-fiction; one of her latest translations, “A Medici in Love”, is a non-fiction book about Francesco I de’ Medici. Lori enjoys sharing her enthusiasm about Tuscan life and does her best to help guests feel at home.

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Strada Provinciale Castellina in Chianti, 6

Barberino val d'Elsa, FI 

Italy