Above: Samson slays a lion in a 1628 painting by Flemish master painter Peter Paul Rubens.
No one really knows the origin of the place name Sansonina.
But most concur that it comes from Sansone, the Italian name for Samson, the historical and biblical Israelite judge known for his immense strength, often depicted in literature and art (like the famous painting above).
Purchased by the Zenato family in the 1990s, the site was already renowned in the 18th century for its productivity and richly flavored produce (more on that later).
Some speculate that its “strength” and “energy” inspired the name.
Others point to a legend that a particularly strong-willed named woman lived there: Sansonina, they say, is a feminine version of the masculine Sansone, a nickname given to her because of her remarkable character and resilience in a time when male chauvinism prevailed.
It’s unlikely that we’ll ever know the true origin of the toponym. But the Zenato family likes to point to the gender fluidity of the name (an unusual feminine name derived from a masculine one) as a reflection of the farm’s current “duality”: A prized estate in the land of white wine where a top red wine is produced.
The Lugana DOC where Sansonina is located has been famous for its compelling white wines for a generation now. But when the Zenato family found ancient Merlot vines there, they were intrigued by their presence. They were so impressed by the red wines the vineyard produced that they decided to build a winery there.
It’s all part of the mystique that you can taste in the extraordinary wines produced there.
Image via Wikipedia (Creative Commons).