Mt. Amiata: Montalcino’s silent, majestic protector

One of the defining geographic features of the Orcia River Valley and the Brunello DOCG is Mt. Amiata (above), an extinct volcano that reaches upward of 1,738 meters (5,702 feet). It lies majestically to the south of Montalcino proper.

It’s widely held that the mountain and the the Amiata lava dome complex, of which Mt. Amiata is the tallest peak, help to protect Montalcino, its vineyards, olive groves, and other crops from hail and intense weather events.

The peaks are heated by the sun throughout the day, the theory goes. And the air flows that rise up from the peaks attenuate storms that come from the south driven by southern winds.

At the same time, the cool nighttime currents that descend from the peaks during summer contribute to diurnal shifts during the last phase of grape ripening. Those mild evenings are key to preserving the fruit’s freshness, aromas, and flavors.

The Orcia River Valley (known in Italian as the Val d’Orcia or Valdorcia) is a UNESCO protected World Heritage site.

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