Where to taste wine in Tuscany

Close your eyes and visualize the most classic, clichéd, borderline cinematic image of Tuscany you can. What immediately springs to mind? For at least 99 percent of us, a glass (or four) of regional wine will inevitably be part of the picture. Sure, there’s more to Tuscany than Chianti Classico, rolling hills and Brunello-fueled conversation, but those stereotypes exist for a reason. Whether you’re a bona-fide wine connoisseur or simply someone who savors life’s little pleasures, you’ll want to make a stop at some of Tuscany’s wineries. You’ll chat with local insiders in largely family-owned enterprises, get unparalleled insight on wine production and, most importantly, take in some of the best views in the land with a glass of vino in your hand. Here are five stellar suggestions for places to taste wine in Tuscany.

Montefioralle - by Ray Schmelzer

Montefioralle – by Ray Schmelzer

Montefioralle Winery

The charming comune of Greve in Chianti lies within easy driving distance of two major Tuscan cultural capitals: it’s about 20 miles south of Florence and 26 miles north of Siena, making the Montefioralle Winery a perfect day trip from either destination. Nestled in the nearby medieval village of the same name, this is a small, family-owned operation where you can organize private tastings of treasures from Chianti Classico and Vin Santo to SuperTuscan and Chianti Riserva. Expect unparalleled attention to detail from the Sieni family, the owners: paired with your pick of the various poisons, you’ll get a typical Tuscan “tasting board” of cured meats for a measly 15 euro. (aziendamontefioralle.com)

Sovestro in Poggio

Take a quick 15-minute trip outside the heart of San Gimignano’s historic center and you’ll end up at the scenic and storied Sovestro in Poggio Winery. But don’t focus exclusively on finding the perfect Vernaccia: apart from tasting Sovestro in Poggio’s trademark Tribolo wine, you can stock up on one-of-a-kind Bagatto olive oil. As one of the more luxe options on this list, Sovestro in Poggio is perfect if you’re planning a romantic getaway or have an extra-indulgent itinerary in mind. After the staff at Sovestro in Poggio spoils you, you’ll probably be craving a luxurious and lengthy night’s sleep, so book a spot at Guardastelle, the winery’s on-site bed and breakfast. (sovestroinpoggio.it/ENG/)

Tua Rita Estate

Not far from picturesque port city Livorno, the town of Suvereto is a haven for Merlot lovers thanks to the Tua Rita estate, which produces a tempting variety called Redigaffi that has even Travel + Leisure’s seal of approval. Tua Rita’s grape rows grow on low, sloping hills known as the Colline Metallifere, or “metal-bearing” hills, and this landscape lends the local wines a unique sort of mineral saltiness. Visits typically include a trip through the vineyard before heading through the maturation cellars and then capping things off with a compulsory tasting. And yes, you’ll most likely meet Rita herself—one half of the passionate couple behind this Tuscan gem. (tuarita.it/en)

Vineyards at Antinori, Photo Catriona miller

Vineyards at Antinori, Photo Catriona miller

Cantina Antinori

Come for the Chianti, but stay for the striking architecture: this mind-blowing space is hidden in the Bargino hills near Florence, but the design aesthetic could cause you to second guess your actual surroundings! Swirling spiral staircases are visible from the main floor, and the cellars were built to fit lovingly within the landscape—in fact, the mission was for the buildings to remain largely invisible, or at least inconspicuous. While it’s true that they’re no match for the magnificent views of the Tuscan hillside, they could still distract you from even the top vini at this venue. That list includes several spins on Chianti Classico: Peppoli, a Vin Santo, the standout Villa Antinori Chianti Classico and more. (antinorichianticlassico.it/en)

Avignonesi Estate

Resting between Montepulciano and Cortona is one of the region’s most prominent wineries. The fabled Sangiovese grapes are grown here for use in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano production. Wine tasting experiences can vary greatly depending on how you plan your outing: cellar samplings are free with a bottle purchase, but if you’d like to make a leisurely afternoon of it, you can book a customized “Wine Lover’s Lunch” in advance. Industry professionals may be partial to the Avignonesi estate since they offer an expert-targeted technical winery tour, taking curious connoisseurs into the nooks and crannies of their “secret” cellars.

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