During your stay in Italy, if you’re looking for tasting sample wine while you’re in Italy in business or vacation, go straight to the source: These Tuscany wineries are excellent spots to learn about, enjoy—and, of course, sample—wine.
You might want to set aside an entire weekend for Castello Banfi, a family-owned vineyard estate and winery in Brunello di Montalcino. Though it’s famous for its award-winning Brunellos, syrahs, merlots, cabernets, and blends, you’ll want to stay long after the wine tasting to soak in the spectacular surrounds (the estate boasts 7,000 acres of vineyards, olive groves, and cypress trees).
Many say that you won’t get a better Chianti than one from Barone Ricasoli—a pretty lofty claim, but highly probable considering that Baron Bettino Ricasoli himself invented it in 1872. Ricasoli is Italy’s oldest winery, producing some of Tuscany’s finest wine since 1141. To this day, the family continues to produce more than three million bottles a year. The winery offers an excellent tour of its cellars and grounds, including the majestic Castello di Brolio, capped by a private wine tasting.
Azienda Agricola Montefioralle
While you’re in the Chianti region, stop by this small, family-run winery in the medieval village of Montefioralle, near Greve. Unlike Barone Ricasoli, this winery produces only 10,000 bottles of wine a year (it’s one of the smallest wineries among the Chianti classico producers) but that’s where its charm lies. A member of the Sieni family, who own the winery, will personally take you on a tour through the vineyards and cellars, followed by a tasting of all six wines produced.
Marchesi de Frescobaldi Castello di Nipozzano
The iconic Renaissance artists Donatello and Michelozzo Michelozzi were said to be fiercely loyal to the wines produced at Castello di Nipozzano, and we’re inclined to believe it. The winery, located in the heart of the Chianti Rùfina region, pioneered the production of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot in Tuscany in 1855; a century later, they began producing their signature Mormoreto. Their wine tour takes you through their cellars and ends with a wine tasting with antipasti.
Tenuta San Guido
Being the birthplace and exclusive producer of the Sassicaia—one of Italy’s most sought-after wines—Tenuta San Guido is a must for oenophiles. For many years, Sassicaia was simply the personal wine of estate owner Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, until it was released commercially in 1971 (it’s considered the first Super Tuscan). Tenuta San Guido’s cellar tour and wine tasting fee is a steep €60, but worth it.
The stunning Avignonesi winery, located in the village of Valiano near Montepulciano, produces eight red wines (including an award-winning merlot), a chardonnay, and three grappas. The winery boasts one of Italy’s most ancient and beautiful wine cellars, allegedly built in the late 16th century. We recommend the general tour, which takes you through the vineyards, cellar and attic, followed by an excellent four-course meal with wine pairings.
Biondi-Santi, Tenuta Il Greppo
Like Barone Ricasoli with Chianti, you can expect to find an excellent bottle of Brunello di Montalcino at Biondi-Santi—it was invented here, after all. Biondi-Santi alone has been producing Brunello continuously since 1888; there are rumors of bottles in their cellar dating back to 1888 and 1891. The two-hour private wine tasting sessions are good but pricey at €50—there’s a shorter, 45-minute version at the cellar for €15 that gives a great overview of their wine-making process and tasting of two wines.