I didn’t always like wine. My family is Puertorican and ours is a rum culture, not a wine culture. Living in Italy for the past 17 years, I have definitely gained an appreciation and love for wine and I try to learn what I can usually from knowledgeable wine expert friends in Rome like #winelover Sarah May Grunwald of Antiqua Tours or Hande Kutlar Leimer of Vinoroma.
This past March, I was invited by my friend Coral Sisk of Curious Appetite who is based out of Florence to join in on a group wine tour being led by her and We Like Tuscany specifically visiting small, independent producers of Montalcino wine in the Val d’Orcia area of southern Tuscany. The whole area became a designated UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004 and it is a stunningly beautiful part of Italy.
We had an early start and while the day was grey and drizzly, our group was small and in good spirits – we were in a beautiful place in excellent company with lots of great wine in our near future – who wouldn’t be! Our first stop was at the Casato Prime Donne winery. Donatella Cinelli Colombini is an inspiring entrepreneur who started this first all female winery in 1998.
At Casato Prime Donne each part of the winery during tastings is a multi-sensory experience with music specifically and expertly selected in each of the rooms to correspond with the wine being tasted.
A red heart on the barrel signifies the top of the top at Casato Prime Donne winery – wine made from the best grapes grown in the best part of the vineyard and an extremely limited quantity produced. After our visit, I had to buy a couple bottles to remember the experience. The red heart bottles were out of my price range, but they have a wide range of differently priced options to choose from.
I’m not used to drinking wine so early in the morning so I took very small sips at Casato Prime Donne and saved most of my wine drinking for our second stop at Santa Giulia winery which despite the wet weather had gorgeous views.
We toured a bit of the winery, but primarily did our wine tasting with lunch. It was a wonderful spread including a thoughtfully prepared first and second vegetarian course for me as the lone veggie in the group. I don’t ever expect a special meal so this was very much appreciated. Gianluca Terzuoli poured the delicious wines from his family’s vineyard that is run by him, his wife and parents. At mealtime is the traditional way to drink wine in Italy and my preferred way as well so this was perfect.
After a delicious meal which was prepared by Gianluca’s mother, we headed to our third and final stop of our wine tour at La Fornace winery. Founder and patriarch Franco Giannetti passed on the family business to his son Fabio and it was very obvious that he inherited a love for their land and passion for their product. Both father and son were there to pour the wines and tell us about their winery and the history of wine in the area.
As a small independent business ourselves, I feel strongly about supporting other small, family run businesses like the wineries we visited. In the internet age, their product is now available to everyone so if you don’t live in Italy there’s limited quantities you can take back home with you, but they can ship and then thankfully, it’s always possible to order more. Wine tours or a wine tasting are definitely a great idea when in Italy as it’s such an integral part of the culture here. So much wine and so little time!
The wine I brought home didn’t last very long, but I still have a bottle of a 2009 Santa Giulia Brunello di Montalcino that I’m saving for a future special dinner. Thanks so much to Curious Appetite and We Like Tuscany and all the wineries we visited for a very memorable day.