Wine Touring in Tuscany

We went on a family trip to Italy last spring. It was delightful, and you can read more about how the trip got started here, all our Italian trips and tips here and here. A bunch of time has passed since the trip, and to say we have been busy since is an understatement. So now, in November, I’m reflecting on how grateful I am for all the experiences of the past year with this set of recaps.

This one is a good one — a day full of wine tasting in Tuscany. You guys, we loved this tour so much that we went on it twice and ordered a bunch of wine to bring home, too! Join us on our recap of our day tasting wine in Tuscany!

Setting off for wine tasting

We set off from our downtown Florence apartment around 9:15 am for a day of wine touring. We crossed the Arno River, got a snap or two of the Ponte Vecchio, and in no time arrived at the Grape Tours storefront. We checked in, grabbed some coffee, and soon met our tour guide, Katherine.

Walking across the Arno, ready for wine tasting

Stop #1: Corzano e Paterno

Our first stop was Corzano e Paterno, a fully-operational farm, that is a 40 minute drive from Florence. They make their own wine, olive oil, and sheep cheese, all of which are exquisite! The farm's name comes from the two surrounding hills — Corzano, where the grapes are grown, and Paterno, where the sheep graze.

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We began our tour by seeing the rows and rows of vines. We then moved inside to see where they produce and bottle the wine. Finally, we ended with an exquisite wine and cheese tasting in an old Tuscan barn.

wine and cheese tasting in Tuscany

Stop #2: Crazy Butcher

Next stop? The crazy butcher, Dario Cecchini! Dario runs the famous butcher shop and kitchen in Panzano. This guy is a legend, and has made quite the name for himself. He raises only the best quality cattle on a family farm in Spain, and has such respect for the meat that he recites Dante while cooking the meat. During our trip this year he was actually there, which is always a real treat. We even got to get some photos with him. To say he is a character is an understatement — in this pic, he was tickling me, while shouting “carne!” (the Italian word for meat). Hilarious!

The crazy butcher, Panzano in Chianti

Side note: I noticed that Dario will be in the 2018 season of Top Chef, likely as a guest judge or something. It’s interesting, since he doesn’t speak too much English, despite being married to an American woman! Stay tuned!

We ate lunch at Dario’s restaurant across the street, called Solociccia which roughly translates to “only meat”. The meal consists of course after course of—you guessed it—meat!

Solociccia -- only meat lunch in Panzano!

Stop #3: Renzo Marinai

After lunch we went to another winery called Renzo Marinai. It has exquisite views of the rolling hills nearby and is a bit of a more elevated experience. It was beautiful, but I'll admit, I still loved the first winery a bit more for some reason :)

Rolling hills of Tuscany

Stop #4: Greve in Chianti

On the way home, we stopped in a small town called Greve in Chianti to stretch our legs, do a little shopping, and grab a bite before heading back to Florence. It was a beautiful day for learning more about wine

Corzano e Paterno oak barrels

Did you know?

Here are fun facts we picked up while on our Tuscan wine tour. Enjoy and cin cin!

  • The deeper the grape roots grow, the more complex the taste of the wine gets.

  • A vineyard isn’t really considered “established” until year 10.

  • Oak casks connect the tannins and smooth out the wine. If it’s a new barrel, the flavor of the barrel comes together with the wine.

  • When it comes to aging in the barrels, they always want the barrels to be as full as possible to reduce oxygenation.

  • A new barrel is like a tea bag — the first year, it is very strong. By year 5, it’s called a neutral barrel. The smoothest of the chiantis are aged in neutral oak barrels.

  • It’s very easy to ship wine to the US from Europe — sometimes even easier than state to state!

  • Generally, you should drink Chianti within 3-5 years. We were told that the 2014 vintage Chianti is ready to drink now (2018), while the 2015 could probably age until 2025

  • It's trendy to plant roses at the end of the vineyards, as roses and grapes have the same growing season and are susceptible to the same diseases and mildew. The roses also serve as an early warning sign if something seems wrong with the growing season.

  • Sulfites are a natural part of wine, and they keep the wine from going bad. Organic wines contain less of the added sulfites, and Italian wines have less than American wines. Other foods have more sulfites than wine, like dried fruit, nuts, and sushi.

PS: Again, we have no affiliation with Grape Tours, but truly thought it was another excellent tour worthy of sharing with our family!

wine touring in tuscany