CHIANTI CASHMERE really began way back in 1972, when Nora Kravis, the creator and founder, left Long Island (NY) for Italy and never looked back. With a Fine Arts degree in her pocket, braids down to there, and a passion for all things four-legged, Nora studied Veterinary Medicine at the Università di Pisa and made a tumbled-down Tuscan farmhouse her home long before it was the place to be or the thing to do.
Exercising horses in Radda in Chianti on an autumn afternoon just as the sun was setting, she came upon what was to become her home for the next 30+ years: a tiny, desolate, dilapidated stone farmhouse nestled into the side of the Volpaia valley against the steep, rocky hillside, overgrown with blackberries, thorns, brambles, weeds, burrs and wild flowers. The 360° view was more than breath-taking; it was magical: a valley of perfectly balanced terraces, vineyards, pastures, olive trees and woods. A dimension that felt 'right', finally, a place that felt like 'home'
With a childhood dream to live in the country surrounded by her animals, Nora soon became the owner of little more than a precarious pile of rocks, in an area of Rural Tuscany that noone had ever heard of, abandoned except for the Sardinian shepherd and his family across the valley ...... but it meant a 'roof' (so to speak) over her head and shelter for her horse and brought new meaning to 'stargazing from your bed'. She began rebuilding the little farmhouse, stone by stone, and six months later enrolled in Medicina Veterinaria all'Università di Pisa ...........alternating mixing cement with medical exams, wielding a scythe while practicing emergency medicine, the “farm” took shape: a job that would take a decade to complete and provide sometimes unsurmountable hurdles to overcome.
The animals arrived by twos: 2 sheep ('Betty & Boop’), two pigs ('Pyg’ & ‘Sty’), two dogs (‘Pucci & Sbaglio ‘), numerous ducks and chickens and hens and a rooster (‘Big Red’), and the horses: first two and then four (Dorio, Desireè, Nescafè, Carlos Primero)……..and the goats (‘Bella & Bestia), tied in the shade of a tree…................but that was THEN
The little farm house is still there, perched on the side of the hill, now cosily reconstructed over the years to become a popular ‘Agritourism’. The first two goats tied to a tree have become a group of genetically selected Cashmere Goats, with wide-spread origins and exotic names (Eugenia, Darlin’, Festa, Hooligan, Houdini, Igloo, Satana, Chatterbox, Mr Magoo, Ice Cream, Romolo and Remo), who produce the raw material for a unique line of exclusive, hand-woven Italian Cashmere accessories, home textiles and our own SUSTAINABLE CASHMERE yarn for the knitter who knows quality yarn.
From its origin, the goat herd has become a reality now recognized nationally and in other countries of the EEC: not only is it the first privately owned Cashmere goat herd in Europe, it is the genetic data base and source for reproductive animals across the country. Years of daily contact and interaction with the goats in our herd have allowed us to develop expertise of the entire cycle of the breeding, harvesting and transformation of the raw cashmere into finished yarn and thus the unsurpassed quality of our handwoven accessories
In an era that has marked the destruction of the small farm, abandonment of acreage once dedicated to farming and grazing, and reduction of the number of herds in central Europe, ……. CHIANTI CASHMERE GOAT FARM, is an exception to the rule, and a model for small-scale agricultural enterprise