Visit a Tuscan winery to dive into the world of winemaking and taste classic Chianti wines
If you're looking to visit a winery and its cellars - as well as taste some great wines - while you're in Tuscany, I highly recommend you put Dianella on your itinerary.
The wine cellars are simply beautiful: it is quite spectacular to go below the villa and make your way through the labyrinth under the gardens to the back of the hill that the villa sits upon and walk through decades of history in wine-making. Learning about the process of "vinificazione" along the way to see how grapes were and still are transformed into wine.
In honor of Renato Fucini, the Italian poet that used to own the villa in the 18th century and who composed most of his work while living here, the names of some of Dianella's wines are titles of his poems. From Le Veglie di Neri to Sereno e Nuvole to Dolci Ricordi. Ask about the names of the other wines to learn more where they come from ;-).
Located just outside of Empoli on your way to Vinci to the west of Florence, the estate is easy to get to especially as you make your way across Tuscany. The wine cellars were fully renovated about 10 years ago and they are gorgeous! The cement cellars used to ferment wine decades ago were no longer in use; the new oenologist recommended they be restored and used and this has been an innovation in how wine is aged now. Every year something new has been updated or added to the winery's offerings. While the main focus is wines (Dianella makes two Chianti DOCG wines, the Chianti and Chianti Riserva, 3 red blends called Il Matto delle Giuncaie, Le Veglie di Neri and Maria Vittoria and Ottavia, a white wine called Sereno e Nuvole, a rosé called All'Aria Aperta and a sweet wine, a vinsanto called Dolci Ricordi), the estate is also surrounded by hundreds of olive trees that produce the estate's fine extra virgin olive oil.
The estate has also recently partnered with local small companies to use the leftover must from the grapes along with essential oils to make body scrubs, shampoo and body wash and olive oil based soap. The villa also plants its own vegetable and fruit garden, from which it just recently started making conserves/jams. Everything can be purchased on the estate during your visit.
A visit to the historical wine cellars
Here's a short preview into what to expect from our own experience visiting the cellars and wine tasting -- but to truly experience the cellars and taste Dianella's wines you have to go there yourself! Do not miss out, make sure to book your visit ahead of time so that you can arrange to visit Dianella!
The guided visit to the wine cellars at Dianella not only includes a look into how wine is made and the setting in which Dianella wines come to life, but also a museum dedicated to the process of wine-making. Visitors can discover every single moment of farm life, from the grape harvest to olive picking and wine production and the wine-aging phases.
The first hall welcomes you with several welcoming corners where you could just sit and drink in the smell of wine in the air! We sat here by this grandiose wooden barrel, which is no longer in use but was used at Dianella in the past. A perfect setting for wine tasting after the visit.
The visit winds through different areas below the villa and garden: from the ancient wine cellar with oak barrels to the underground cement cellar, from the "vinsantaia" where the barrels that store vinsanto are kept to the "orciaia" which is where the estate's olive oil was stored, ending in the present-day, modern wine-making cellar.
Along the way, you will see several pieces of old machinery no longer in use and wine-making tools from past eras used for bottling, filtering, labeling and plugging up the bottles. Wine has been made at Dianella for over the last 70 years by the Billeri family and has sustained agricultural activity from earlier times. Each displayed object has a story to tell and the guide will help you understand what you’re seeing.
If you're lucky like us, your guide will be no other than winery owner Veronica Passerin d'Entreves, the brain behind the rebirth of the Dianella estate over the last 20 years. Veronica is super active and always around so it is highly likely you might get to meet her, if not as a guide, during the visit or tasting.
Time to Taste Dianella's fine wines
The visit to the wine cellars naturally ends with tastings of Dianella's wines. The tastings are often in the hall below, close to the wine shop, or in the hall above the wine cellars. The tasting is also accompanied by a plate of traditional Tuscan dishes, from crostini and cold cuts to pecorino cheese.