The development of agriculture and wine producing in the Chianti owes much to the system of sharecropping, 'mezzadria', that existed in Tuscany from the late Renaissance to post-WWII.
An evolution of feudalism, the landowner of the farm had a compact with the sharecropper, mezzadro, to provide seed, implements and housing in exchange for the cultivation of the land, with profits being shared equally.
This system continued for centuries, with the lives of the farm workers tightly controlled by the Signore whose house they maintained for his occasional visits, particularly at harvest time.
After WWII, even as the Italian Communist Party sought to improve social and economic conditions in the countryside, this system began to collapse.
Impoverished working conditions, absent landlords, and farmhouses in dire need of repair with few funds to provide it meant jobs in the industrial north were a more attractive livelihood.
One by one, farms were abandoned and farmhouses sat empty on the land. Thankfully, many of these buildings have since been acquired by Italians and foreigners alike and converted to comfortable country homes or smaller farming estates and vineyards who have kept the Chianti agricultural tradition alive.