Tuscan Wineries

7 04 2007

There are issues you need to be aware of before planning a trip. First, see the film “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Now forget everything you saw in it. Reality check list alert.

  • The roads, by now mostly paved, twist and are more suited to horses and Vespas than SmartCars. No road even resembles a straight line. But there are loads of signs so you need to pay attention. A good road map and a Garmin are key.
  • Tuscan wineries, regardless of size, are hard to find. Often there are no signs or street addresses on the property itself. You need to zigzag around a comune/township or ask for directions. Asking is no guarantee. You will probably just stumble into one at the end of a hidden gravel road.
  • English is often spoken but don’t expect it. You have to know basic Italian or some sign language. The people are genuinely friendly and want to help you. Most bigger wineries have English brochures with really quaint translations.
  • Some wineries have small shops so you can pop in to buy wine or EVOO. Look for a sign which says “Vendita Diretta”. There is no gift shop with fucking fridge magnets and relish.
  • Wine tastings are usually free (but you should buy something – you will feel guilty) or at some nominal fee. Booked tours are possible. Bigger wineries take walkups all the time. Everyone closes for lunch 1300-1500 and so should you. Ring to make an appointment and be nice enough to cancel if you cannot. Get a winery map by visiting the Consorzio of the area. Very few wineries turn down visitors if you ask nicely.
  • No more than 1 glass before you drive. They drive fast and the roads wind. Taste and spit, or have a designated driver. It is simply not worth it otherwise.

Some wineries you already know are Verrazzano, Altesino, Banfi, Rocca della Macie, Dievole, and Ricasoli.