What to Expect on Wine Tours in Tuscany
Spoiler: Wine tours in Tuscany are not the same as driving around to 5+ tasting rooms in one afternoon. Piano! Siamo in Italia! (slow down- we're in Italy!)
Tuscany is many things to many people. It’s the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. The capital of culinary delights like ribollita, bistecca and gelato- and of course WINE. Tuscany is also home to some seriously beautiful designer handbags that you tell yourself you’re coming back to buy… one day.
But whatever your idea of Tuscany is, one thing stands out among the quintessential, if a little cliché is cypress lined rolling hills & wine country. Tuscany is Italy’s second largest wine producing region and arguably its most famous. After all, no mafia movie or Italian restaurant abroad is complete without at least one fiasco – the rounded wine bottle encased in straw and filled with none other than Tuscan Chianti.
The fiasco may have well and truly run its course, but Chianti and its viniferous companions have not. Tuscany continues to produce spectacular red and white wines that give their French counterparts a run for their money.
So what’s the best way to experience Tuscan Wine? Not with a stop at your local liqueur store, that’s for sure. For an authentic look at the wines, the places and the people who have done so much for Italy’s oenological reputation, you have to sign yourself up for a wine tour in one of Tuscany's caliber wine regions.
What should one expect on a Wine Tour in Tuscany vs new world wine regions like California's Napa Valley?
It goes without saying that Tuscany wine tours are very much like the Tuscans themselves, leisurely, unhurried and indulgent.
Very often, wineries in Tuscany are family-run operations. The wine makers or the on-site staff will usually take through a guided tour of the cellars & production facilities and possibly a walk through the vineyards, explaining their estate history and viticulture techniques along the way. After paying respect to the producer's estate and history will you be then allowed to the tasting room area to partake in a guided wine tasting. Now you see why 5 wineries in one day would be a mission?
If you are Australian, Canadian or American accustomed to wine tasting at home "tasting room" style, you may be surprised to discover wine tours in Italy are done a little differently here. Tuscan vineyards (at least the ones we visit) aren’t modern behemoths, churning out millions of bottles with stainless steel tasting rooms where you can just drop in and sample a few pours gratis or order flights.
At a cellar tour in Tuscany's wine country, your wine tasting flight will be at least a few wines which best reflects their estate. Some producers are very proud and want to show you a wide gamma- up to 7 wines sometimes! You'll usually start with lighter, younger wines and work your way up to their reserves or more aged labels. If you're lucky, you may end with a taste of their sweet wines if they produce it.
In other words, wine tasting in Tuscany is not about knocking back a couple of glasses of red before moving onto the next vineyard or tasting room. To truly appreciate the wine, you need to go on a journey to discover its origins and the people who make it.
The best wine tours in Tuscany don’t just blindly pick a strip of road and take you to all the vineyards along it. The sheer distance between each vineyard and the desire to sit, sip and truly appreciate the experience mean they will only ever include two, at the very most, three vineyards in a day with plenty of time to savour your surroundings like a true Tuscan.
So where should you start? Tuscany is best known for Chianti Classico, Brunellos and its Super Tuscans, big, bold reds that are best enjoyed at the table with something delicious. Wines from Chianti Classico, for example, are wine designed to accompany food. We aren’t talking about McDonald’s here. Not every Chianti is the same. Each is a true expression of its terroir or the land on which the grapes are grown, of the techniques and skill of the vinaiolo or winemaker and of the way in which it’s been aged. A good Chianti wine tour is thoughtfully put together and researched and should include lunch, since the only way to enjoy a Super Tuscan is with a super Tuscan meal packed with delicious local cold cuts and cheese.
Sangiovese-based wines from Chianti Classico is a great novice wine. If you don’t know much about Tuscan wines, it’s the perfect place to start and since its production region is fairly close to Florence, it’s an easy day trip from the city.
But Chianti isn’t the only name in the game. The Brunello di Montalcino is his more elegant older brother, with a strong game following on the cult wine & collector scene, while the Vernaccia di San Gimignano is a beautiful white with a striking history.
Along with select partners, we offer full day Tuscany wine tours highlighting the Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino or the Vernaccia di San Gimignano, as well as the Super Tuscans of Bolghieri. All our tours are extensively researched to ensure you experience only the very best niche producers and family-owned boutique vineyards.
What does that all mean for you, the humble wine drinker? It means the first, second and every sip after your Tuscany wine tour is no longer an unconscious act, but one filled with knowledge of the notes on your palette, the region you have seen with your very own eyes and the producers you have met in their vineyards and wine cellars.
Curious to know more about our Tuscany wine tours? Our 8/9-hour immersive tours take you Tuscany’s best wine producing regions, where you can meet the winemakers and sample their wine over lunch, visit beautiful towns and villages and explore the Tuscan countryside. Learn more and book or contact us for more details!