Irate Italian Baron Responds To Sting's Vineyard Drama [Updated]

An Italian baron employed a bit of trickery to get Sting to buy his run-down villa

Update, September 1, 2021: Well, looks like there's still some contention between Sting and Duke Simone Vincenzo Velluti Zati di San Clemente, according to the Associated Press. Clemente reportedly wrote an angry reply back to Sting, after Sting accused the duke's father of misleading him by passing off a Barolo for the less-than-stellar Chianti produced in the vineyard Sting eventually purchased from the duke's father.

In a letter, the duke wrote that Sting's claims "not only do not respond to the truth, they are highly damaging to the memory of my father and to my reputation." He also called the claims "slander, poisonous and completely false."

Sting replied with his own letter offering "sincere and unequivocal apologies." The singer added that the story "as reported was disrespectful to the memory of your distinguished father." He went on to say the duke was "an honorable man, who never misled me," and said that the story meant to illustrate that 25 years ago, Sting wasn't much of a wine person and was unable "to distinguish a Barolo from a bar of soap."

Velluti Zati doesn't buy the apology and thinks it was a "necessary act" that fell flat, but isn't sure whether or not he'll pursue anything further. Oh, the drama. Hopefully there'll be a made-for-television movie about this.

Original Post, August 18, 2021: When Sting isn't rocking out with his hurdygurdy or having marathon sessions of tantric sex, you may be able to find him in Tuscany, strolling up and down the fields of his verdant vineyard, contemplating the mysteries of life with a fine glass of vino. Though Sting isn't the first celebrity to venture into the alcohol industry, he may be the only one to get into the business not for reasons of vanity or riches, but rather, by accident.

Sting bought the Il Palagio estate back in 1999, but he wasn't looking to get into winemaking at all—he was just looking to buy a summer home in Italy. At the time, the villa grounds, located in the small town of Figline Valdarno near Florence, were in a state of disrepair. But even at its worst, a Tuscan hilltop villa overlooking 350 hectares of farmland, vineyards, and wild forest is a pretty damn tempting purchase.

Still, Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler, were on the fence about adding the estate to their impressive real estate portfolio, until then-owner Duke Simone Vincenzo Velluti Zati di San Clemente tipped the scales in his favor in the most classic of fashions: by plying the potential buyers with wine.

In an interview with Italy's Sette magazine, Sting admits that he was duped by the duke that pulled the old switcharoo, serving the spiky-haired renaissance man a glass of red wine that was not, as he believed, the product Il Palagio's rundown vineyards.

"He offered us a glass of red from a carafe during one of our early visits to Il Palagio," Sting told Sette. "We were negotiating the purchase. We liked the property a lot, even though it was in ruins. The duke asked me if I wanted to taste the wine produced by the estate and I said yes. It was an excellent wine and that convinced me to buy the vineyards as well. It was only later that we found out that the duke had served us a Barolo and not his own wine."

Sting discovered the duke's duplicity after the purchase was completed. He told the magazine that, after serving bottles from his new estate at a party, he saw one of his guests dumping the contents of their glass into a flowerbed. When a man discovers he's been cruelly conned into buying a picturesque Italian villa with subpar wine grapes, there is only one thing that he can think of: revenge.

"It was then that we decided to avenge ourselves and to show that it was possible to produce excellent wine from the vineyards at Palagio," he said. "Our whole Tuscan adventure has really been a way of getting our own back."

As for Duke Simone Vincenzo Velluti Zati di San Clemente, he's probably off at some other stately villa, kicking himself for giving up on Il Palagio. Today, Sting's vineyard sells 150,000 bottles of organic (of course) wine a year, and in 2016, Wine Spectator named Il Palagio's Sister Moon wine–a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes–one of the 100 best wines in Italy. Suck on THAT, Velluti Zati di San Clemente!

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