b'An Unexpected CallingHow Amie Ruditz found herself curating Tuscan retreatsBY ABBY SHERL ocal entrepreneur Amie Ru- freshWhenthey found oliveas Laby silvery green olive groves, vineyards, and fields of rosemary, lavender and jas-ditzrememberstheprecisemine. Its located on an ancient road known moment she found her calling.Francigena in a town called Monterig-ShewasinItaly,samplinggioni, about an hour south of Florence. Schmidt olive oil. When I tasted that olive oil,purchased the villa and was determined to restore it to I felt like I opened my mind up to whatsits natural beauty. As he and his team started refurbishing, possible. It tasted like the sun. tree bulbs dating back hundreds of years and Ruditz hasnt always gotten to bask in the olive orchards of Italy. As a kidsowed new bulbs next to them.growing up in central New Jersey, she remembers her biggest adventures in- Schmidtfinishedwith volved camping with her family or biking to her friends houses. Ruditz didntVilla Montecastellos renovation, Ru-actually step onto an airplane until she was in high school. But once she madeditz helped put together a three-day it overseas on a college study abroad program, she was hooked on travel, andwine celebration there. She brought now, almost two decades later, she still loves exploring new landscapes andon board all the finest wine purveyors cultures. Even as she describes her travels, her eyes widen as if shes seeing it alland distributors she knew and even for the first time again. got the celebrated chef Marco Cano-She started out after college working in the wine importing and distribu- ra (who owns the renowned Hearth tion business. One of the first jobs she landed was as office manager for a wineRestaurant in New York City) to par-expert named Jens Schmidt. Schmidt ran a wine importing company out ofticipate. The event was a huge success New York City, but also lived part of the year in a 1,000-year-old stone villaand Ruditz was inspired. With Cano-in Tuscany, Italy, called Villa Montecastello. Villa Montecastello is surroundedra, she designed a week-long cooking 14/ matters magazine / fall 2019'