Exploring Tuscany through the vineyards
May 25, 2020
When I think of Italy I think of beautiful mountains, picturesque landscapes, spectacular cities, cliffside towns, incredible beaches and delicious food and wine. Italy is an excellent choice for a variety of holidays whether a city break to Rome or Venice, a road trip along the Amalfi Coast or renting a villa with loved ones in Tuscany and exploring the local towns and produce. Tuscany produces a great variety of wines including some popular red wines that are found worldwide.
With so many areas to choose from Italy has a plethora of great hotspots and towns to visit. If like me you love good food and wine, why not start with the best vineyards in Tuscany to visit… I have handpicked a few favourites throughout the region for you to have a look at below. Depending on what type of wine you prefer there is something for every wine lover.
Tuscany is a wine haven, with many different producers, famous winemakers and popular wines created here. There is a classic Tuscan Wine Trail that is very popular with tourists and there are a variety of choices to take on this route. Some vineyards offer accommodation or are just a short drive from one of our private villas, such as the Villa Dei Vigneti offering spectacular views, a private swimming pool and sleeping 10 guests, see more here. For those looking to escape and find a more quiet route, the Montecucco Wine Trail is an excellent option and more off the beaten track.
The landscape of Tuscany is filled with rolling hills, vineyards, olive groves and incredible views. It is home to Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile de Montepulciano wines. The main grape varieties that are found in Tuscany are the Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah. These produce a beautiful blend of wines and a variety of red, white and dessert wines, some of the most famous of these are from the Chianti area of Tuscany.
When driving through Tuscany along your wine trail you will see picturesque streets lined with Mediterranean cypress trees up to 400 years old, beautiful vineyards everywhere and many olive groves. It is not uncommon to discover wine tasting at the side of the road. These welcome all guests and you can pull over to visit one of the many churches or local restaurants and enjoy wine tasting at the same time. Whilst picking up a bottle to take home for your designated driver.
A popular wine route for those looking to visit more than one vineyard whilst on holiday includes many of the Chianti Classico wines that are made in the area. Located between Florence and Siena this region is hugely popular and primarily uses the local Sangiovese grape in their wines. Chianti must have at least 70% Sangiovese in it and is generally easy drinking and one of the softer red wines. Within this area there are a lot of traditional winemakers but there are also many that have a focus on eco-responsibility and now farm organic vineyards.
Located in Central Tuscany is the Antinori family estate just 20 kilometres from Florence. Set amongst olive groves it is a beautiful vineyard that has been producing wine since 1385. The vineyard; Marchesi Antinori is one of Tuscany’s most important and well established wine producers. It is definitely worth a visit. Open everyday for guests, guided tours and wine tasting, there is a museum, book shop, art collection and wine bar, perfect for your introduction to Tuscan wine.
If you are looking for Chianti, the Castello di Ama Siena is the ideal spot. Located in the tiny hamlet of Amma in the Chianti Hills, a village famous for prominent winemaking families. Here at the Castello di Ama Siena you will find the winery and estate that was founded in the 1970s, with many award-winning wines. Not only famous for its wine you will also get to visit the wine cellars and working winery as well as some of the village’s historic sites and gardens. It is also a popular place for artists to visit.
Heading south towards the heart of the Val d’Orcia, there is a UNESCO World Heritage site called the Castiglion del Bosco, home to the Montalcino Wine Estate. This vineyard produces modern style Brunello and has built a fantastic area to visit including a winery, two restaurants, spa and a golf course. You can easily spend a few days whilst on a trip through the wine region. The wine tour at the Montalcino Estate is excellent for beginner wine tasters to connoisseurs and includes a sneak peak at the barrelled cellar. If you want to head here make sure you pre-book or you may be disappointed.
Heading further south to the Salcheto Vineyard, where they produce some of the best Montepulciano. This vineyard has spectacular and unobstructed views of the Tuscan hills. It is an environmentally friendly vineyard and received the prestigious Gambero Rosso Award for sustainability in 2014. Not only does this vineyard offer wine tasting, there is also a lovely terrace and restaurant for you to enjoy the local foods alongside the different wines on offer.
For the more prestigious wine connoisseur then a stop at the Tenuta San Guido vineyard should be added to your list. Located on the Tyrrhenian Coast it was made famous by the Italian Nobel Prize winner Giosuè Carducci. A large vineyard stretching from the sea to the hills creating one of the most sought after wines; the Tenuta San Guido. The winery is the exclusive producer of the Sassicaia wines. Made mainly from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes it produces aged wines and whilst it is one of the more expensive wine and cellar tours, the tasting is exceptional. It is approximately £60 per person and the wine is well worth it for those that are into their wine.
Moving onto one of the more famous white wines in Tuscany. For those who enjoy white wine, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano is one of the most well known in the area. Made from the Vernaccia grape that is grown in central Tuscany. Occasionally combined with a Chardonnay or Viognier grape, many local producers prefer not to compromise and solely use the local Vernaccia variety. A beautiful winery in a historical location close to San Gimignano is the Il Colombaio di Santa Chiara vineyard. Try this local speciality and variety of grape with its individual taste. You can visit this small inn for a tour, wine tasting or even an overnight stay.
Before you get to the end of our vineyard recommendations, let’s not forget the sweet dessert wine that is produced in Tuscany; Vin Santo. A blend of Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes that are kept to dry over the hottest months to develop their sweetness. These grapes are high in sugar content and naturally ferment in small casks for up to four years to create this delicious sweet wine. If you head to the Tignanello Estate part of the Antinori Wines Collection there is a small part of the estate dedicated to producing 10,000 bottles of Vin Santo each year. Traditionally Tuscan Vin Santo is served with a sweet almond biscotti which you can easily find locally. Enjoy the two together as the pairing is definitely worth a try.
Things to note before you head to Tuscany:
Whilst you may be lucky or able to pop into roadside tastings, smaller vineyards or wine shops and restaurants, it is best to call ahead and pre-book if you would like to visit a particular winemaker or vineyard. Many do charge roughly £10-20 per person but for this you will have expert guidance and enjoy a range of wines grown by the vineyard. There are free wine tastings and tours dotted all over the region and many of the growers love to talk about their wines and produce without guests feeling the need to purchase a few bottles. However after trying these local delicacies you may wish to take a few home…