In a region known for its wines, it helps to have a guide point you to the best ones.
Sloping vineyards, charming hill towns, and gorgeous wine estates all add up to Tuscany being one of the most scenic wine regions in the world. These wineries rank for their historic settings, magnificent views, and exceptional vino.
The Antinori family has been producing wine since way back in 1385, and their cutting-edge winery built into the Tuscan hills opened its doors in 2013. Antinori produces one of the best-known Super Tuscans, called Tignorello, a blend of Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. They offer several options for touring the gorgeous winery and cellars, always followed by a tasting. Visitors can lunch in their rooftop restaurant, Rinuccio 1180, or try wines by the glass in the sleek Wine Shop.
One of the most well-known wineries in the Montepulciano region, Avignonesi converted to organic and biodynamic farming when it was purchased by Belgian shipping heiress Virginie Saverys in 2009. Today they produce a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano made from 100% Sangiovese grapes, as well as a renowned Vin Santo di Montepulciano (dessert wine where the grapes are traditionally dried on straw mats), along with many other varieties. The 16th-century manor house surrounded by vineyards makes a wonderful setting for tastings, and visitors can also see the Vin Santo aging cellar, the drying room, and the barrel tunnel while learning about the biodynamic winemaking process. Don’t miss the highly-rated lunch with wine pairings, served on a terrace with superlative views over the Tuscan hills, or take advantage of cooking classes and hot-air balloon rides.
Badia a Coltibuono
Badia a Coltibuono, in the heart of the Chianti Classico region, is in one of the most intriguing settings in Tuscany: an 11th-century monastery. Guests can choose from a number of tour and tasting options, including visiting the former crypt to see Chianti Classico aging in oak barrels, or taking a walking tour of the vineyards, about a 20-minute drive from the abbey. You can also try classic Tuscan cuisine in the on-site restaurant, with meals served in the garden during warmer months, or sign up for individual or group cooking classes. If you have time, spend the night in the atmospheric agriturismo within the monastery, where one-of-a-kind guest rooms have been created within the former monks’ cells.
Located near Gaiole in Chianti, Barone Ricasoli has been owned by the Ricasoli family since 1141. Not only is it the oldest winery in Italy, but Bettino Ricasoli, known as the “Iron Baron,” is said to have come up with the original formula for Chianti wine in 1872. Today it’s the largest winery in Chianti Classico, housing 240 acres of vineyards. Pop by the wine shop for a tasting, or make an appointment for a winery tour. Castello di Brolio, built around 1000 AD, is on the grounds, and although it’s usually not open to the public, you can take a guided tour of the small museum in the 12th-century castle tower, with exhibits on both the castle’s history and Chianti wine. Then stroll around the lovely gardens, and end your visit with a meal at Osteria del Castello, which only uses Tuscan ingredients in its dishes.
One of the most historic wine estates in Tuscany, Capezzana has been producing wine and olive oil since 804 AD. Located northwest of Florence in the Carmignano DOCG region, Capezzana produces organic wines with at least 50% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, blended with other local varieties, and is also known for its Vin Santo. Visits, by reservation only, include a tour of their cellars, olive oil mill, and Vin Santo aging cellar, followed by a tasting of wine and extra virgin olive oil. Capezzana’s restaurant and wine bar, the Vinsantaia (open March—December), is the perfect place to taste their wines along with local produce, meats, and cheeses. Cooking classes are also available. There’s even a charming agriturismo with eight rooms where you can spend the night.
Castellare di Castellina
The gorgeous Castellare di Castellina vineyards, owned by Italian media executive Paolo Panerai, is one of the highest vineyards in Chianti: it’s situated in a natural amphitheater at a 1,200-feet elevation. Besides offering panoramic views, the winery is particularly known for its I Sodi di S. Niccolò Super Tuscan and Chianti Classico, along with Vin Santo dessert wine, all produced using sustainable agriculture. Make an appointment for an hour-long tour of the cellars followed by a tasting.
Castello di Ama
Close to the town of Siena, in the Chianti Classico region, Castello di Ama blends tradition with modernity: their 12th-century castle is juxtaposed against contemporary art installations created by renowned artists including Anish Kapoor and Louise Bourgeois. Ninety-minute visits (which must be booked in advance) include a tour of the cellars, the 18th-century villas and gardens on the property, and the artwork, and end with a tasting of Castello di Ama wines. There’s also an Enoteca where you can taste and purchase wines, and a restaurant (Il Ristoro di Ama) serving up simple Tuscan dishes and matching wines. If you can’t get enough, spend the night in one of the four suites located in the Villa Ricucci.
Castiglion del Bosco
Though its history dates back to 1100 AD, Castiglion del Bosco, in the Montalcino region, really came into its own in 2013 when it was purchased by Massimo Ferragamo of fashion house fame. Ferragamo renovated the property and modernized the winemaking facilities. Today the vineyard grows exclusively Sangiovese, and produces renowned Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino. Castiglion del Bosco is also part of a full-fledged resort including the luxury Rosewood Castiglion del Hotel, which includes an upscale restaurant and more casual osteria. Private tours, by appointment only, include visits to the cellars and vineyards plus tastings ranging from several wines to full vertical tastings. They’re pricey, but oenophiles say the experience is more than worth the cost.
Fontodi, a certified organic winery owned by the Manetti family since 1968, is located in the Golden Shell (“Conca d’Oro”) part of the Chianti Classico region south of the town of Panzano. Tours, offered by appointment only, take visitors through the winery, cellars (some of their wines are being aged in terracotta pots), and bottling process, and end with a tasting. If you’ve come with a group, look into staying at one of their three villas (two with your very own swimming pool) nestled in the vineyards.
Overlooking the hill town of Montepulciano, Salcheto is a biodynamic winery using fully sustainable practices, including energy from renewable sources such as solar, recycled materials in the winery building, and purified and recycled wastewaters. Sample their Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and other wines during lunch in their Enoteca or as part of a private or small group tour and tasting. On the grounds is also a nine-room boutique hotel, The Salcheto Winehouse, in a 13th-century farmhouse with breathtaking views of the vineyards.