From Grape to Bottle: See How Wine is Made — Photo courtesy of Christian HaugenWhen making a trip to the Bel Paese, visiting Rome and Venice is always at the top of everyone’s list. Another region that is extremely popular is Tuscany. And who could blame them? The wine, the food and not to mention the picturesque panorama. Anyone who’s ever seen the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, pictures themselves escaping to Tuscany in search of a slice the good life. Thanks to the abundance of wonderful wineries and vineyards in Tuscan towns such as Montepulciano, tourists flock by the thousands to experience its beauty and to partake in wine tastings.
Montepulciano is a small town located in the region of Tuscany with a population of just over 15,000 people. Though the tiny town has very few residents compared to bigger cities in the region such as Florence; the paese grows even larger every Spring and Summer when tourists flood the region. Montepulciano sits on top of a hill and boasts views of the Orcia and Chiana Valleys and the region of Umbria. The region is most famous for the production of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (red wine) which is made primarily with the Sangiovese grape.
Visiting the Vineyards of Montepulciano — Photo courtesy of VinoFamilyIf you're interested in doing some wine tastings and visiting some of the vineyards in Montepulciano, there are various places where you can do so. Depending on whether you want to visit a small mom-and-pop winery with a more family-like atmosphere or a larger company with a respected reputation in the business, will determine your experience. A favorite for many travelers is the Avignonesi Winery in Montepulciano. This winery is one of the largest producers of red wine in the region. It gets its name from the Avignonesi family, its original founders.
The company initially started out as a small producer, specializing in the desert wine, Vin Santo, but later gained fame in the 1980s with its Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In 2009, the winery was taken over by Virginie Saverys, a connoisseur of wine who geared the company into organic farming methods and techniques that have made the Avignonesi name innovative and successful.
Touring the Wine Cellars of Tuscany — Photo courtesy of Christian HaugenThe Avignonesi winery conducts wine tastings and tours May through October (grapes are harvested mid-September). The tours include a walk through the vineyards, a visit in the cellars giving visitors a complete view of the wine-making process from grape to the bottle. Most tours last about two hours long and include tastings of about 5 different wines. Most people though, can't resist the temptation in passing up a chance to try some good ol' Tuscan home cooking. Therefore, many visitors often pair the tastings with one of the cantina's organized lunches. Another option, for the really ambitious foodies; after you're through with your wine tasting tour, sign up for a classes with Chef Davide Conti who shows you the ins and outs of Tuscan cooking.
For more ideas on planning your trip to wine country, there's the Strada del Vino di Nobile Montepulciano, a local tourism board that specializes in organizing tours and accommodations in Tuscany.