The Best Wine Experiences in Chianti this Summer
Tuscany is best experienced relaxing, with a view in front of you and a glass of wine in your hand. Across the entire region you can find “local Tuscan wines” from that part of Tuscany. While the Brunello di Montalcino is pretty well-known worldwide, there is also the Rosso di Montepulciano and Val d’Orcia wines in that same area. The coastal area in southern Tuscany known as Maremma produces Montecucco DOCG wines and a sweet wine known as Aleatico, really yummy! The mid-coastal area around Bolgheri is known for its “Super Tuscans”, with Sassicaia being a big name. Then there is Chianti which is a wide area that lies between Florence and Siena. Chianti actually extends to the east and west of Florence and Siena, with sub-regions such as Chianti Classico (the central part), Chianti Rufina, Chianti Colli Fiorentini. I am sure you are getting the idea.
Since most everyone who visits is interested in tasting and exploring the region through its wine, I hope I can offer some suggestions as to where to head to this summer for special wine tasting experiences. Today I’ll focus on Chianti, recommending some top family-owned wineries that are creating some pretty special wines and offering interesting and unique wine adventures! Two also offer accommodation, so if you wish to fully immerse yourself in Tuscan vineyards, I’d suggest including at least a night stay or even your entire stay to fully immerse yourself in the world of wine in Tuscany. A big plus to staying at a vineyard is that you will never have to consider not partaking because you’re the designated driver! 😉
Naturally, food is also a big part of the wine tasting culture here in Tuscany so tastings are often accompanied with local food pairings, often in the form of a light lunch. Let’s get started on places to explore wine this summer!
La Lastra: View into an Organic Winery
In the hills of the gorgeous Chianti countryside just 2km from the medieval center of Siena, you will find La Lastra. It is an organic farming estate, the dream of creating a sustainable winery by a group of college friends studying agronomy and wine-making. That was over 25 years ago and the project has been a success. La Lastra creates organic wines that convey the scent of Tuscany in a bottle, the grapes grown on the estate create an elegant wine that brings enjoyment to all those who savor it.
I recommend a visit to La Lastra for a special adventure into the world of the life of an organic winery. Their unique wine tasting experience called “Vine, Wine and Life” lasts 3 hours and takes you into the history of their project, into the technology that makes it possible, into the beliefs of how respect for the land allows you to get the best from it. You’ll get to visit the vineyards, the the winery where the grapes get smashed, fermented and transformed into an incredible wine before tasting several of their award winning wines accompanied by a light lunch of local favorites. Enjoy the best wine/food pairings and make your heart and spirit sing!
Learn more about La Lastra: https://www.chianti.com/wine-tasting/la-lastra-siena-wine-tasting.html
Take a look at their wine experience, you have to book in advance: https://www.lalastra.it/winetasting/
Dianella: Replanting Leonardo’s Vineyard
The second of our wineries, the Dianella Wine Resort, sits in the Chianti Montalbano area around the small town of Vinci where the genius Leonardo da Vinci was born. The grand 15th century villa to the west of Florence was used as a hunting lodge for the Medici family. Sitting atop a hill of tuff rock, in the mid-20th century the Billeri family carved the wine cellars right under the villa and grounds of the estate. Since the early 2000s, Veronica Billeri now Conti Passerin d’Entrèves family have undertaken a massive project of renewal for the estate which has meant something something new almost every year.
In 2019 all of Italy celebrated the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death and Dianella celebreated its local hero by bringing back to Vinci the Malvasia di Candia grape varietal that was unearthed in what remained of the gardens behind Leonardo’s house in Milan centuries ago. One single plant came back to Tuscany with Veronica where it was replanted to create Leonardo’s vineyard right behind the villa right next to the villa’s own vegetable garden, the produce which is then used in their bistro.
In addition to visiting the estate’s winery, Dianella offers an itinerary to “follow” in Leonardo’s steps, from visiting the vineyard to participating in a cooking course with dishes inspired by recipes found in Leonardo’s famous journals. The visit is dotted with anecdotes about both his inventions and court life in Milan in the court of Ludovico Sforza, known as il Moro or the Moor. You will get a savor the sweet taste of Aquarosa, a liquor whose recipe was found in Leonardo’s codices and which Dianella’s chef Alessio Bagnoli has brought to life!
In addition to traveling back to the times of Leonardo, the winery offers unique wines aged in the ancient “cement” cellar, originally used in the 1970s and restored over the last decade. Not many wineries today use this method to age their wines, thus Dianella produces unique tasting and award winning wines. A visit to the winery takes you on a journey through time and the various stages of wine making. You end up tasting a selection of the estate’s wines along with a sampling of local Tuscan cold cuts and cheeses. If you wish, after your visit you can decide to remain for a full lunch at the bistro, relaxing and enjoying the view of the gardens. If you want to fully enjoy a wine adventure, Dianella has 4 suites inside the villa where you can stay (with a few more apartment suites opening up in 2023 if you’re not here yet this summer).
Read more about wine tasting at Dianella: https://www.discovertuscany.com/what-to-do-in-tuscany/wine-tasting/dianella.html
Book your Leonardo Vineyard visit or wine tasting: https://www.villadianella.it/la-vigna-di-leonardo/
Viticcio: Be a Winemaker for a Day
Have you ever dreamed of making your own wine? You can at the Viticcio family-run winery in Greve in Chianti in the heart of Chianti Classico! Their exclusive “Master Wine Blending” tour lets you, side by side with the expert winemaker, craft your own blend using up to four grape varieties grown on the estate. You will learn how great wines are made, learn to expertly taste and identify the characteristics of various grape varieties taken directly from the oak barrels in the Viticcio cellar. Using your own personal taste tests, you will try several blends in order to create your perfect wine!
The tour includes a light Tuscan lunch, and at the end, you will take home 3 bottles of your personal blend tagged with your own personal label! This truly is a unique experience that I have not seen anywhere else in Tuscany. You have to book ahead of time, considering it requires preparation prior to your arrival.
If all you want is to taste some of their great estate Chianti Classico wines, they also offer wine tasting, with or without a tour of the winery and with or without a light lunch. You decide what works best for you! Have I forgotten to mention that Viticcio is also a fully organic winery or that their wines win awards and awesome reviews year after year? Lastly, Viticcio would also make a great base while in Tuscany. Less than a mile walk outside of Greve in Chianti, you can stay there without a car, just walk into town for dinner and to grab a bus into Florence and from there to other towns via train. You might not want to go very far in any case, being surrounded by the vineyards and with a gorgeous pool where to hang out by 😉
Read more about Viticcio’s winery visit and tastings: https://www.chianti.com/wine-tasting/viticcio-wine-tastings.html
Take a look at Viticcio’s tours and then book direct (all tours & tastings require booking): https://www.viticcio.com/tours-tastings/
About Lourdes Flores
An American living in Florence for over 10 years, Lourdes continues to explore and discover new places in Tuscany with the eyes of a tourist but with the experience of living in Italy. She shares her experiences on this blog and website, particularly offering lots of travel planning help on the Forum!