I am truly of the belief system that locals are the best source of information for your travels.
If you asked me about my home town, I could give you detailed advice on what to see and do, the restaurants you should absolutely visit and those that you should absolutely avoid – heck, I’ve eaten at every single one multiple times!
I have spent a lot of time in Italy, but I could never rival the knowledge of the locals which is why I called upon a good friend to help me write this particular article.
‘Vino’ sits hand in hand with food as one of the two key things synonymous with Italian culture, so I called upon my good Italian friend Roberto to discover his favourite vineyards, and his advice for a wonderful wine tasting experience.
Do your Research to find a Vineyard you will love
As you may know, different Italian regions have different specialties of Wine so have a think about the types of wines that you enjoy (it doesn’t matter if they are Italian, French, Australian or so on; just consider the aspects and undertones of the wines you enjoy and research accordingly) – if you like a strong, Earthy red wine, then the Campania region in the South is great for that. The fertile soils on the banks of Vesuvius contribute to the rich and smoky taste. Consider trying a Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio or an Aglianico. Alternatively if you like Prosecco, then I am sure you will enjoy the dedicated Prosecco vineyards that are dotted throughout the Veneto region.
Organising a visit to a Vineyard
I strongly recommend that you organise your visit to a vineyard independent of any travel provider. You will find that ‘Wine tasting’ tours are offered in most major Cities, however the better quality vineyards do not necessarily participate in these programs. Once you have found a Vineyard that you would like to visit, visit their website and send them an e-mail. Most Vineyards will be participating in International exports so you are likely to find someone who speaks good English on site.
Visiting independently allows you more freedom, and time to speak with the owners about their recommendations, the various grapes and production processes, and so on; not to mention it ‘cuts out the middle man’ in terms of the travel company adding in their margin.
Learning more about Italian Wines
Wine tasting is often seen as a pretentious activity, which is a shame as it is a great way of discovering new favourite wines. Italians joke that the French shout about their champagne and Wine production, showing off their wines to the World, whereas we keep ours to ourselves and it is true that there are a number of fantastic Wines that are sold solely within the domestic maket.
Trying wines at a Vineyard offers you the chance to have a producer answer your questions within a beautiful setting, however there are a number of festivals and tastings that take place across Italy throughout the year where you can taste the produce of a number of different wine makers. Radda nel Bicchiere is a two day festival which takes place annually in the small town of Radda in Chianti in Tuscany, or Vinitaly in Verona offers a huge selection of Italian and World wines.
The big name wine makers are not necessarily the best ones; I recently took a trip to Florence to visit the Antinori Vineyard in the Chianti Region – one of the most respected and famous names in Italian wine production, Antinori is now in its 26th generation, established in 1385. You can take a site tour to witness the whole production process, and try the produce but the experience felt very touristic.
On the other hand, I visited a number of smaller, lesser known producers in Chianti Rufina and I was really touched by their passion, the quality of their products and their kind hospitality.
There is a reason Antinori is so well respected – their produce is fantastic, but do not bypass those that are new to the industry on account of their marketing budgets.
Do you have any recommendations of great Italian Vineyards?
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