This prestigious winery was founded by Lodovico Antinori, a man of some pedigree in Tuscany, his aunt having been wife to Marchese Mario, the man who at the Sassicaia estate was responsible for beginning the Super-Tuscan movement. He began as a winemaker in California, but returned to his native homeland in 1981.  Having inherited a plot of marshy Maremma coastland from his mother, Antinori began creating his wines in the Super-Tuscan mould, eschewing native varieties like Sangiovese for those more typical of Bordeaux. He cultivated Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and released the first vintage of his flagship wine, Ornellaia, in 1985. The Merlot was planted as an experiment and in an effort to differentiate his estate from Sassicaia, the original Super-Tuscan where Lodovico Antinori’s brother Piero was a highly successful consultant. The wines were catapulted into worldwide fame in very little time, and Antinori found further success in the launch of Masseto, a single-vineyard pure Merlot wine. In 1997, a second wine was introduced in Bordeaux-fashion and the quality of Ornellaia was boosted to such a degree that Decanter made it their ‘Wine of the Year’ the following year. Robert Mondavi became a minority shareholder in 1999, but soon took over the estate in its entirety due to Antinori’s wish to move onto other projects. A leading Tuscan wine family, Frescobaldi became Mondavi’s partners in 2002 and three years later gained outright control of the estate. Today the wines, made under the watchful eye of Axel Heinz with consultation from famed Bordeaux oenologist Michel Rolland, continue to enjoy worldwide success, with more than two thirds of production destined for export to overseas markets.