A couple of friends and I went on a wine tasting trip last week that turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences in my life. We all love red wine and my friend Dani REALLY loves red wine so she planned this trip to the Montalcino region. We stayed in a beautiful 10th century castle hotel, Castello Di Velona. The views from this castle are absolutely breathtaking! There is a thermal spa with an indoor and outdoor pools that are filled with healing spring water that gushes from Monte Amiata.
How To Get There?
You can easily fly into Florence or Rome and the drive is a little less than 2 hours to the hotel. I strongly recommend renting a car to get around. One of the reasons we loved staying at Castello Di Velona was because all of the wineries were really close by and not over crowded with tourists. I would say each winery was between 10 to 20 minutes drive from the hotel. Marchesi Antinori is the only one that is a bit further away and I would suggest going there on your way back to Florence.
Wineries To Visit
Castello Banfi – The Banfi castle and winery extend along the southern slopes of the township of Montalcino across 7,100 acres of land. The soils are known to be extremely rich, structured with clay and calcium which favor the optimal growth conditions for the vine and complexity in red wines.
Col d’Orcia – This winery is just a 3 minute drive from Castello Banfi. Stop by there on your way back and experience the magic of local honey & free wine! We bought a couple of jars of their delicious local honey and they waived the wine tasting fee.
Fattoria dei Barbi – This winery extends over 757 acres in Montalcino and is a short 10 minute drive from hotel Castello Di Velona. The Brunello produced by Fattoria dei Barbi has won prizes all over Europe since the late nineteenth century, and continues to win awards today.
Podere Le Ripi – A beautiful winery with stunning views! It is owned by Francesco Illy, the founder of Illy coffee. The winery is environmentally friendly and organic.
Marchesi Antinori – The Antinori family has been involved in the production of wine for the past six centuries and it is one of the largest vineyards for Chianti in Italy. It is a 30 minutes drive from Florence and the tour is a really cool experience. There is a fantastic restaurant on the top level called Rinuccio 1180 that I recommend you stop by for lunch after the wine tasting.
Dinner In Montalcino
Go for dinner in the small medieval town of Montalcino. We strolled around the town and came upon the cutest restaurant, Alle Logge di Piazza that had several tables outside. The food and service was really great. We started with a mix of cheeses and prosciutto followed by four different pastas. I know that sounds a bit excessive but every single bite of the pasta was worth it! Plus, portion size in Italy can’t even compare to American sizes, so we just relaxed and enjoyed our vacation.
After dinner we stopped by a couple of shops to buy gifts for family and friends. Montalcino also produces several different varieties of honey that you can find in these shops. Most of the stores also offer wine tasting while you shop! We came upon this particular place that had all their wine bottles in a contraption that looked like an espresso machine (AKA wine dispensers). Each one was a different year and they let us try so many without even charging us. Guess they just loved our company!;)
- If you are drinking Brunello, the best way to decant is to pop the cork and let it rest for two hours rather than decanting in a decanter.
- Some Chiantis are not even made in Chianti so look for the Chianti Classico as they are the real ones with a deep red color.
- Best to consume red wine within two days of opening.
- 2007 and 2010 were both rated as very good years for wine so look out for those when purchasing your wine.