Where to go wine tasting in Italy

Ah, Italy—a country where wine flows as passionately as its rich history. While Tuscany’s vine-draped hills might be the first image that pops into your mind when you think of Italian wine, the truth is, Italy’s wine culture stretches far beyond those famous borders. Each region offers a canvas of flavors and traditions, from the bold reds of Umbria to the sparkling wines of Franciacorta. So, grab a glass, and let’s journey through some of Italy’s best wineries and wine tasting experiences.

The must-have wine-tasting experiences in Italy

Embarking on a wine-tasting tour across Italy is like flipping through the pages of a well-loved cookbook. Each region offers a different taste, a different grape, and a unique story behind its wines. While every region has its own charm, several experiences stand out as quintessential Italian wine adventures:

  • Vineyard Tours: Explore the picturesque vineyards that carpet the Italian countryside, where rows of grapevines stretch as far as the eye can see. Guided tours provide insights into the winemaking process, from cultivation to harvest, offering visitors a deeper appreciation for the labor of love behind each bottle.
  • Cellar Visits: Descend into ancient cellars and underground caves, where barrels and casks age gracefully, imparting complexity and character to the wines. Discover the secrets of fermentation and aging as you wander through dimly lit corridors lined with oak and chestnut barrels.
  • Wine Pairing Dinners: Indulge in the art of food and wine pairing with exquisite dinners hosted by local wineries. Savory dishes crafted from fresh, seasonal ingredients complement the nuanced flavors of Italian wines, creating harmonious culinary experiences that linger in the memory.
  • Harvest Festivals: Join in the festivities during the annual grape harvest, known as “vendemmia,” where vineyards come alive with music, laughter, and the aroma of ripe fruit. Participate in grape picking activities and traditional rituals, followed by celebratory tastings of newly pressed wines.

Best Wineries in Umbria

Umbria, often referred to as Italy’s green heart, is a region steeped in history and tradition, less trodden by tourists compared to its neighbor, Tuscany. Known for its scenic beauty and religious heritage, Umbria is also famous for its wine production, particularly the bold, tannic reds like Sagrantino di Montefalco, which has gained international acclaim. This grape is exclusive to the region, producing wines that are robust and can age beautifully. The area is also known for Montefalco Rosso, a more accessible red blend, and several interesting whites such as Grechetto and Orvieto. Wine enthusiasts might find spring and early autumn the best times to visit, enjoying mild weather and the vibrant colors of the landscape, along with fewer crowds.

Arnaldo Caprai

A beacon of innovation in Montefalco, Arnaldo Caprai is synonymous with the Sagrantino grape, which they have championed since the 1970s. Their Montefalco Sagrantino is a powerhouse, dense with tannins yet beautifully balanced, showcasing notes of blackberry, spices, and leather. The winery offers extensive tours and experiences that not only explore the vineyards and modern cellaring techniques but also dive into the cultural heritage of Sagrantino wine. Don’t miss the vineyard picnic!

Tenuta Castelbuono

Blending art with viticulture, Tenuta Castelbuono’s striking Carapace winery, designed by sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro, is a destination itself. Their Montefalco Rosso, a blend of Sangiovese and Sagrantino, offers a more approachable but still robust profile with vibrant fruit and spice notes. The winery’s tasting experiences are unique, offering not just a tour of the vineyard and the cellar but also a view of the integration of art and nature.

Antonelli San Marco

Set in a scenic landscape near Montefalco, Antonelli San Marco prides itself on sustainable viticulture and making wines that purely reflect their terroir. Their Grechetto offers a fresh, floral, and nutty profile, ideal for those seeking to explore beyond reds. The estate also produces a stellar Montefalco Sagrantino, which is both powerful and elegant. Autumn is a particularly good time to visit when the grape leaves turn fiery red and gold, and the estate’s ancient stone buildings feel particularly enchanting.


Best Wineries in Tuscany

Tuscany is perhaps the most renowned wine region in Italy, celebrated for its picturesque landscapes and its pivotal role in the history of winemaking. Famous for producing Sangiovese-based wines such as Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany offers a range of flavors from bold and structured reds to fresh and aromatic whites like Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Tuscany is also home to the Super Tuscan wines, a term used for Tuscany wines that don’t adhere strictly to traditional blending laws, often incorporating non-native grapes like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The best time to visit Tuscany for wine lovers is during the harvest season in September and October, though spring also offers beautiful vineyard blossoms and cooler tasting conditions.

Antinori nel Chianti Classico

Antinori nel Chianti Classico not only reflects the Antinori family’s six-century wine legacy but also showcases exceptional modern architecture. Built into a hillside and almost invisible from afar, the winery is designed to blend seamlessly with the Tuscan landscape. Its use of natural materials like terra cotta and Corten steel complements this integration. The building’s design supports the gravity flow of wine, enhancing the winemaking process by reducing mechanical intervention. Visiting Antinori offers a chance to explore both their innovative facility and taste their pioneering Tignanello, a blend of traditional Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Photo by Antinori nel Chianti Classico

Castello Banfi

Situated in the picturesque Montalcino area, Castello Banfi is a beacon of innovation and quality in Italian winemaking. This expansive estate is renowned not only for its majestic castle but also for its role in elevating the quality of Brunello di Montalcino. Castello Banfi has pioneered research in viticulture and winemaking, focusing on clonal research to optimize the quality of Sangiovese grapes. The result is a range of structured, elegant Brunellos that reflect the unique terroir of their vineyards. The winery also offers a comprehensive visitor experience, with tours that showcase their advanced facilities, tastings of their award-winning wines, and even an on-site museum dedicated to glassware and wine history.

Photo by Castello Banfi Wine Resort

Best Wineries in Lazio

Lazio, the region surrounding Rome, is often overshadowed by its ancient history and monumental landmarks. However, its wineries produce some unique wines that deserve recognition. Known primarily for white wines like Frascati, made from Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes, the region also produces interesting reds from Cesanese and Sangiovese grapes. The volcanic soil of the region lends a distinctive minerality to its wines, making them unique. Lazio’s wineries are best visited in the spring or autumn to avoid the summer heat, providing an ideal climate for leisurely tastings and vineyard tours.

Marco Carpineti

Perched above the town of Cori, Marco Carpineti dedicates itself to organic farming, producing expressive wines that respect the environment. Their Kius, made from the local Bellone grape, is an excellent example of Lazio’s potential for white wines, offering floral aromas and crisp acidity. The Tufaliccio, a blend of Montepulciano and Cesanese, showcases the red wine potential of the region. Spring or early autumn visits are ideal for enjoying the mild climate and stunning views of the Italian countryside from the winery.


Best Wineries in Franciacorta

Franciacorta, located in Lombardy, is renowned for its premium quality sparkling wines, made in the Metodo Classico or “traditional method”, similar to champagne, involving secondary fermentation in the bottle. These sparkling wines are primarily made from Chardonnay, Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir), and Pinot Bianco (Pinot Blanc), offering complexity and elegance. The region’s commitment to high-quality production standards makes its sparkling wines some of the best in Italy. Franciacorta is a joy to visit all year round but is particularly enchanting in the summer when the vineyards are in full bloom and the wineries often host tastings and tours. Visiting one of the wineries makes for a great day trip from Milan.

Monte Rossa

Monte Rossa is renowned for its Cabochon, a flagship Franciacorta that showcases the winery’s pioneering spirit in Italian sparkling wine production. This premium wine, crafted from Chardonnay and Pinot Nero, features a rich blend of orchard fruits and a refined, toasty finish. Visits are ideal in late summer or early fall when the vineyards are lush and the harvest buzz begins, providing a perfect setting for experiencing their celebrated sparkling.

Ricci Curbastro

Ricci Curbastros winery seamlessly blends tradition with innovative techniques to craft its celebrated Franciacorta sparkling wines. The estate is also home to a captivating wine museum that traces the history and evolution of winemaking in the area. Their Franciacorta DOCG Brut stands out for its meticulous craftsmanship, utilizing the traditional method to create a sparkling wine that balances creamy texture with a lively burst of citrus and floral notes.

Ca’ Del Bosco

A leader in Franciacorta, Ca’ Del Bosco is renowned for its meticulous production process that ensures some of the finest Italian sparklers. The winery’s Cuvee Prestige is a testament to the quality and elegance of Franciacorta, offering a fine mousse with a bouquet of ripe fruit and floral notes, underpinned by a vibrant acidity. The winery tour here is almost surgical in its cleanliness and precision, reflecting the high standards that go into every bottle.

Photo by Ca Del Bosco

Bellavista

Bellavista produces some of Franciacorta’s most revered sparkling wines, with meticulous attention to detail. Each phase of production, from hand-picking grapes to the gentle pressing and extended aging, enhances the complexity and texture of their wines. The Alma Gran Cuvée is particularly notable for its refined elegance. Visiting Bellavista offers not only the chance to taste these exquisite bubbles but also to explore the stunning grounds and modern art installations that dot the estate.


Best Wineries in Veneto

Veneto is a diverse and prolific wine region in northeastern Italy, producing everything from the light and bubbly Prosecco to the rich and powerful Amarone. Prosecco, made using the Glera grape, is beloved for its approachable style and is primarily produced using the Charmat method, which emphasizes freshness and aroma. Meanwhile, Amarone della Valpolicella is a deeply concentrated red wine made using the traditional appassimento method, where grapes are dried before fermentation. Ideal times to visit are late spring and early autumn, when the weather is pleasant and the vineyards are either blossoming or harvesting.

Villa Mosconi Bertani

Historic and picturesque, Villa Mosconi Bertani is located in the heart of Valpolicella. Famous for their Amarone and Valpolicella Ripasso, this estate offers a deep dive into traditional winemaking methods, including the appassimento process. The estate is surrounded by classical gardens and ancient vineyards, offering a particularly romantic backdrop for tasting tours, which are especially magical in the autumn during the grape harvest.

Masi

Known for its pioneering work with the appassimento technique, Masi produces some of Veneto’s most iconic Amarones. Their expertise in enhancing the concentration and complexity of their wines is on full display in their Costasera Amarone, which layers dried fruit flavors with chocolate and spice. The winery’s educational tours offer insights into the complexities of Amarone production and are a must for any serious wine aficionado visiting Veneto.

Photo by Masi

Best Wineries in Piedmont

Piedmont, nestled in the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy, is a region steeped in vinicultural prestige, famous for its sophisticated red wines like Barolo and Barbaresco. These wines, primarily made from the Nebbiolo grape, are celebrated for their profound complexity, age-worthiness, and deep connections to the local terroir. The heart of these wines can be found in the Langhe area, a hilly sub-region known for its foggy mornings that are ideal for the Nebbiolo grape. The region is also known for other grape varieties such as Barbera and Dolcetto, which produce more accessible but equally distinctive wines. Piedmont’s white wines, particularly those made from Moscato, are equally esteemed, often light and refreshingly sweet, perfect for dessert pairings. The best time to visit Piedmont is in the fall, during the harvest, when the landscape turns a fiery red and gold, though spring also offers beautiful vistas of flowering vineyards.

Ceretto

Ceretto is a family-run estate with a reputation for high-quality Piedmontese wines, especially from the Barolo and Barbaresco regions. Their wineries, particularly the striking Bricco Rocche in Barolo and Bricco Asili in Barbaresco, are landmarks in the region, known for their architectural beauty and innovative approaches to winemaking. Ceretto’s wines are a deep dive into the subtleties of Nebbiolo, showcasing varied expressions of the grape from different terroirs. A visit here is a full sensory experience, combining stunning views, exquisite architecture, and complex wines.

Photo by Ceretto

Marchesi di Barolo

Marchesi di Barolo is one of the most historic wine producers in Piedmont, with a deep legacy linked to the development of Barolo wine as it is known today. Their cellars, located in the town of Barolo, house an extensive collection of Barolo vintages, offering a rich tapestry of the region’s winemaking history. Tasting at Marchesi di Barolo is like drinking from the pages of a history book, with each glass offering insight into the evolution of Nebbiolo and the meticulous care that goes into each vintage. Visiting during harvest season allows for a deeper connection to the wine, as the entire region buzzes with the excitement of production.

Author

I'm the daughter of an Italian family of diplomats, the second of three children, and a global citizen. I've lived in 7 cities around the world, I have a gigantic crush on Italy and my name has been mispronounced more times than I can remember.

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