The 10 wineries that can not be missed in this romantic part of Italy
Between Florence and Siena, Tuscany is winemaking powerhouse. As Tuscany is the most enduringly famous of all Italian wine regions, thanks to the romantic glamor of its endless rolling hills, cypress-lined country roads and hilltop villages. But even iconic wines as Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Via Cassia per Siena, 133 | Localita’ Bargino, 50026 San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Italy
If you enjoy Italian wines then you know that Antinori crafts some of the best. This winery, famous for their Super Tuscans wines Tignanello and Solaia is an extremely modern design that incorporates all of the new technologies in wine making. The building is built into the landscape and most of it is underground. It looks like something out of a James Bond movie.
The tour is pretty standard but the architecture and coolness factor is well worth the 20 Euro. After the tour you get to sample 4 or 5 of their wines and if that is not enough you can sample many more in the wine shop for a price. You can also wonder through their museum which has a lot of the history of the Antinori family that dates back to 1180.
They also have a restaurant named after the first Antinori Runuccio 1180. The food and service is good and they have all of their fabulous wines available by the glass.
The winery is only 20 or so minutes from Florence and makes a great side trip or lunch destination.
Localita Casanuova di Ama | Da Non Sbagliare Con Il Castello Di Ama, 53013 Gaiole in Chianti,
Immersed in a mantle of olive-clad hills and vineyards, Castello di Ama, a small 15th century hamlet above Lecchi in Chianti, is patron to one of the most eclectic permanent contemporary collections of art (and its associations with wine) in situ.
Marco Pallanti and Lorenza Sebasti’s Chianti Classico and other wines from the estate are among my favourite Tuscan wines because of their terroir character, elegance, depth and longevity. Ama’s top labels include Chianti Classico; Castello di Ama; and Sangiovese based single vineyard Vigneto Bellavista and Vigneto la Casuccia produced only in top vintages in limited quantity.
The visit includes the cellars, gardens and high quality contemporary art/sculpture collection around the estate including works by Michelangelo Pistoletto, Daniel Buren, Anish Kapoor, Chen Zhen and Louise Bourgeois. The tour is followed by a tasting of four wines and the estate’s olive oil. There is an Enoteca where you can buy wine at any time.
Just above Pontassieve, towards Pelago, you can visit the very attractive Chianti Rufina winery of Frescobaldi.
You can book for an informative tour of the winery finished by a tasting of several wines with antipasti. There is also a good shop selling the Frescobaldi wines from here and other locations in Italy, together with other estate produce (olive oil, honey, meats etc). You can visit the shop without taking the tour. Tour plus tasting takes a couple of hours.
The offer from the Frescobaldi and Attems estates is very wide and everybody should find a wine to match its taste and budget. Stefania and Luisella are very helpful and knowledgeable about their offer. Shipment is available at reasonable rates… which makes the shopping even more enticing!
Via Capezzana 100, Carmignano, Italy
Capezzana, located just 15 miles outside of Florence, has it all, fantastic wines, fresh fruits and vegetables grown on the property, a great restaurant and a culinary school.
The vineyards and winery are accessible and the wines produced are of very good quality. The surrounding cities offer numerous cultural events in the summertime and can be reached by car within a half hour. The real plus at Agriturismo Capezzana is the culinary school. This is an opportunity to understand the basic concepts of Tuscan cooking and the characteristics of local wines.
Via di Villa Bianca, 15 | Montepulciano, 53045 Siena, Italy
It takes a while to get here from Montepulciano, and you may think you’ve lost your way more than a few times. But it was worth all the trouble. A friend in a nearby town arranged for us to join a group touring Salcheto, which is located in the middle of spectacular Tuscan countryside just outside of one of the most famous wine towns in Italy.
Led through the cellars by a young woman who was not only extremely knowledgeable about the winery’s earth-friendly facility and their wine making practices, but she could explain it all in 4 languages! And the tasting that followed treated us to several different samples, showcased in appropriate glassware, unlike too many American wineries’ pathetic “tasting glasses.”
Though it was appropriate to buy a bottle after a tour, we left with half a case of their superb Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and savored every sip over the next week. Truly a class act and such a warm welcome!
Badia a Coltibuono
Localita Badia a Coltibuono, 53013 Gaiole in Chianti, Italy
Kick your cooking skills up a notch at Tuscany’s “wine resort” Badia a Coltibuono, which means “abbey of the good harvest.” The 1,000-year-old former abbey, outside Florence, has 10 surprisingly spacious guest rooms (eight were actually monks’ cells), with furniture from the 16th century, white-marble bathrooms, and views over the classically landscaped garden. In the rustic kitchen, local chef Guido Stucchi Prinetti teaches aspiring cooks how to prepare a four-course Tuscan meal, and then sends them off to olive-oil tastings or wine-appreciation courses at the properties nearby vineyard.
The dinners at the restaurant were the best we had, including during our time in Roma. Pastas were amazing (gnocchi, pappardelle with wild boar ragu), as was the t-bone. Yum!
Tenuta San Guido
Localita Le Capanne n. 27 57022 BOLGHERI (LI)
They are located 10 kilometers from the sea, with the vineyards ranging from 36 to 60 meters above sea level. The soil is a combination of stones, clay, and sand. The term “Sassi” means “wines from rocky soil.” The soil is rather rich, so they have had to use wide spacing and VSP cordon trellis in order to achieve the “power and elegance” they want in their wines. The average age of the vineyards is 30 years.
For most people, visiting this estate was a dream comes true. The wines were spectacular, and everyone was charmed. Sassicaia is definitely a “bucket list” wine for most wine lovers, and this visit is one that all will remember fondly for the rest of their lives.
Localita Livernano, 53017 Radda in Chianti, Italy
On a hilltop in Tuscany, above a valley planted with vines and olive trees, sits a thousand-year-old stone house that is the apex of the three paragons of la dolce vita—love, laughter and lemon pasta.
In the heart of Chianti Classico, and also that you are a little bit off the beaten track, which is nice for 2 reasons. First, people have to make a more determined effort to come here, which means that it’s not just a casual stopover on a bus tour. The wine here is seriously good, and you don’t just need to take our word for it, the experts also agreed.
Secondly, the staffs here were simply wonderful and gave us plenty of ideas of what to do in the area. There certainly will be no shortage of wine! The wine tasting tour of the Livernano cellars, although you’ve done tours before, is one of the more interesting ones. It was inspiring, and you could certainly see why their wine is so highly regarded. Great tour which is not to be missed!!!
Villa Greppo 183, 53024 Montalcino, Italy
With so many wine producers in Montalcino, it was difficult for us to choose which vineyard/winery to visit in our short day-trip. For those that do not know the history of the Brunello, it is the highly acclaimed king of Italian wines. And for that, what better place than to see where the Sangiovese Grosso clone was born but in Biondi-Santi.
This is not your typical, commercialised tour that most tourists are probably used to being taken to. In fact, when we joined the winery’s in-house tour the tour was very small, and made it just right to make the experience very intimate. Interestingly enough, despite the global fame of Biondi-Santi wines, the tour and grounds felt very boutiquey.
Most of winery tours have been to commercialised wine producers in South Africa and California, but I must admit, this was probably the most memorable. Enjoy the dramatic, cedar tree-lined entrance, beautiful grounds and fresh air. Listen to how the famous bottles of Biondi-Santi are made. Enjoy every moment of it and keep your eyes open, because maybe, just maybe, you will get the chance to meet Jacopo Biondi-Santi himself.
Castiglion del Bosco
Castiglion del Bosco, 53024 Montalcino, Italy
This is such a huge estate that it takes fifteen minutes just to drive across. So there is a certain amount of off-road driving between here and Montalcino. But the white roads are well-maintained, and the pay-off, once you get to the Borgo at the centre of the estate, is spectacular views across to Montalcino, combined with a sense of aristocratic rural seclusion. Castiglion del Bosco is the fifth largest producer of Brunello di Montalcino (a lush red), so have a guided tour of the winery. A tasting session is obligatory. The kitchen gardens are in good hands – they’re tended to by the Vatican’s man.
It’s a working wine estate, but it’s also an impeccably manicured luxury resort. It’s this multi-tasking nature, I think, that prevents Castiglion del Bosco from feeling like a safe, gated version of rural Tuscany repackaged for high-end clients. From the chef’s kitchen garden to the grape-must treatments available in the Daniela Steiner Spa, this place really puts its heart into living the Tuscan dolce vita. And the interiors are quite simply fabulous in their country opulence and comfort.
There’s no denying that this place is expensive. But on the other hand, there are few country resorts of this caliber in the whole of Italy.