Visiting wineries in Italy
My wife and I are vacationing in Italy in May and are interested in visiting some wineries in Tuscany. We will be driving from Florence to Montepucliano and we thought of driving the "Chianti road" and stopping along the way at some wineries. We greatly enjoy visiting npa and doing this. We heard that in Italy you can't just stop by a winery and sample the wines that instead you needed a reservation and a tour. Is this true?
We are also interested in visiting some wineries near Montepulciano, do you have any recommendations? I heard some offer both wine tasting a lunch or dinner.
See my reply (and the others) at:
Generally speaking, our experience was that it was not easy to drop in the way you can in Napa.
The Chianti Region is lovely countryside. I believe we drove the "Chianti Road" if memory serves and it snakes through the small towns in the region. We visited in September and had a lovely time. If you are in the Chianti region, I recommend stopping in Panzano in Chianti. We tasted at Casaloste without an appointment - this was down the road from where we stayed in Panzano. Very enjoyable wines and a very nice young woman who served us (and also spoke English quite well):
There was another winery we tried in Panzano - Panzanetto. Also did not have an appointment there but were able to drop in and taste.
The highlight of our time in Panzano was visiting the famous Dario Cecchini butcher shop - Antica Macelleria Ceccini - and our dinner at the shop's restaurant across the street, Solocicco. It was a great experience - 2 hours at a communal table, you can bring your own wine - wonderful. We loved the food so much we went back the next day for lunch and had the Mac Dario. Information at the link below. I cannot say enough good things about this place and our experience. I don't believe you'd need a reservation for lunch but almost surely for dinner if you were to do that. Truly, it was one of the highlights of our trip:
In Florence, there was a wonderful little place in the Oltrarno neighborhood, only a few blocks from Ponte Vecchio, called Le Volpi e L'Uva. They had a great selection of wines by the glass from all over Italy and a nice menu of smaller bites.
Yes, many wineries in Italy do require making a reservation before visiting, although the Chianti Classico region has more wineries that accommodate drop-in visitors than any other in Italy. Here is a link to information on visiting Chianti wineries:
Here is another helpful website:
I was just in Chianti 2 days ago. I didn't discover/use any "wine road", but I drove around the Classico region. I was a little off the beaten path in Radda, but I had a map, which I picked up in Siena at the tourist office, that listed many wineries with tastings. The map shows those with just tasting; with tasting & food; with tasting, food & rooms. As I drove around, I saw several wineries open for tasting that wern't on the map. Once back on the main road through the Classico reigon between Florence and Siena, I saw several that were open for tastings. The ones I did were free and just like small wineries in Sonoma, Paso Robles, etc. This was about the 2nd of March and the wineries are just beginning to open for the season. My hosts all spoke excellent English and the visits were very enjoyable. In my opinion, the Black Rooster Chianti Classicos are better than they have ever been with these recent vintgages; I am starting to rediscover them. Montepulciano is a cat of a different breed. I have never noticed drop-in tastings, but you can arrange tours through the wine shops in town. It may well be worth your time if you are really interested in Brunello.
Tullio Scrivani owns Osteria Osticcio wine shop and osteria in Montalcino. Besdies being an incredible spot for lunch and wine tastings, he can make suggestions on places to visit and has generally been happy to make a few calls for us to set up appointments in the Montalcino (Brunello) area. He also offers olive oil tastings from many of the top wine producers which is lots of fun.