A trip to Florence without venturing out into the Tuscan countryside is like going to Bora Bora and not snorkeling – it just has to be done. Besides the fact that the countryside is home to a bunch of different wine regions where there is literally something for everyone (don’t drink? that’s ok – you can do olive oil and balsamic tasting – freshly made at the estate) it is also incredibly beautiful!
The last time I was in Florence we booked a wine tour through Viator and it was a great experience – we toured an old castle winery, tasted, and then got to explore the town of Greve. This time I wanted to do something a little different though so I booked a small group tour through a local company. We went to 3 different wineries on the tour, all were Chianti Classico and the first was considered a medium winery. They had barrels that were hundreds of years old – clearly no longer in use, great views, and are unique in that they are the only winery in the region that makes a Super Tuscan that is aged in clay barrels. We had seen the clay barrel technique used in Peru to make wine and Pisco!
The second winery we went to was a small family owned one. Half of the chateau is used as a tasting room and the family lives in the other half. With vines growing over most of the building it reminded you of something out of a movie like Under the Tuscan Sun. One of my favorite things about wine tasting in Tuscany is that you do it sitting down with nibbles of food like the olive oil and bread that are made by the winery. This makes conversation and fun flow freely unlike places in Napa or Australia where you stand at a bar.
At the last winery we got a traditional Tuscan lunch. The first course was olive oil, nicely aged balsamic, cheese, meat and bread. The second course was homemade pasta with marinara, and the final course was biscotti that they suggested you dip in the paired wine. Each course had a lovely wine paired with it and this was the only winery that served us a white and rose wine. Their balsamic was so good that Ace bought a bottle – hopefully it makes it home without us eating it all first!