A Weekend Getaway in the Vineyards of Tuscany
Autumn has arrived with its crisp winds sweeping away the heat of summer and with its arrival comes a vague sense of calm days and cozy evenings. Nature beckons us, but in a different way. Itʼs a season for getting close to the earth, breathing it in, extending our sight over its changing canopy of colors, discovering its tranquil spaces and enjoying its harvests.
In the summer Tuscany is awash in the heat of the Mediterranean sun, tourists and families flocking to its sandy beaches and warm sea. Then, as the summer holidays come to a close and the burn of the midday sun subsides, the golden rays of autumn illuminate the rolling landscape of the Tuscan countryside, the perfect place for peace and serenity where hills give way to glimpses of valleys nestled amongst forests, and ancient Renaissance villages surrounded by olive groves and vineyards extend as far as the eye can see.
Tuscany is a region where nature dominates over breathtaking works of art and architecture, where some of mankindʼs greatest masterpieces stand side by side withe natureʼs very own. The countryside vaunts a beauty which imbues a sense of relaxation offering travelers a chance to breathe in the scent of grapes and must, discover new tastes on their plates or in their glasses and enjoy the perfect balance that unfolds as beauty, well-being and flavors come together.
Itʼs the time of year when Tuscany becomes the perfect destination for wine country trekking - a trekking tour which winds through vineyards and wineries, towns and lodgings, wine and food as trekkers discover views of picturesque landscapes along country roads, while watching rolling rows of grapevines framed by cypress trees and dotted with rose bushes. In a land as dedicated to beauty and flavors as Italy is, its no wonder that one of its great 20th century wine critics and gastronomes, Luigi Veronelli, once said, “If you want to understand a wine, you must walk amongst its vines.”
One of the most charming trekking tours through Tuscan wine country is that of the wine estate Carpineto, world renowned producer of great Tuscan reds. The tour makes its way through some of the territories of the most important appellations, including Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico, all amongst the areaʼs most prestigious vineyards.
The tour begins from atop a hill in Montepulciano in the south of Tuscany in the heart of the Valdichiana. The Tenuta di Montepulciano is a veritable oasis of nature and ambience, dedicated to sustainable agriculture, and complete with a 184-hectare wine retreat with a lake, woods, olive groves and vineyards. Set in the midst of this enchanting scenery, a short distance from the older 18th century structure, is the estateʼs newest wine cellar. Painted in soft earth tones, the cellar also houses a small museum of antique agricultural equipment, a splendid hall for tastings where visitors can enjoy various guided samplings of different vintages, and a shop where wines can be bought directly from the winery itself. The building is surrounded by lush grass and flowers sloping down to a small natural lake. On the hill, an impressive 12-hectare olive grove produces excellent oils as well. Here at this estate, Carpineto produces its Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva Docg, the only Tuscan producer to make this Montepulciano exclusively as a Riserva - a wine which has for three years in a row been the only Nobile named to Wine Spectatorʼs Top 100.
Just a few kilometers away is the center of Montepulciano, where trekkers can reserve a table at Le Logge del Vignola, a carefully curated restaurant with an intimate feel where traditional local dishes get a modern twist and great attention is paid to pairing the food and wine.
Leaving Montepulciano, the next stop is the Val dʼOrcia. This must visit area is a triumph of nature intermingling in perfect harmony with old villages, churches and ancient towers all rising and falling with the hills and ravines until stopping at Montalcino, a place famous for the king of red wines, Brunello, and the beauty of its old town which has been so well maintained that walking its narrow streets is like stepping back in time. The Tenuta di Montalcino della Carpineto sits on a perch about 500 meters above sea level on one of the highest and most panoramic hilltops in the area. From here, the views sweep across the center of the old town taking in the entire length of the ancient walls which once surrounded it. The vines grown here are on breezy slopes facing slightly north creating a unique microclimate which gives this elegant Brunello intense and complex aromas, a pleasing freshness and a long finish.
Moving on, the tour continues through the countryside of Chianti Classico, a stunning area filled with castles, medieval villages and unending vineyards known for producing excellent wines. The town of Greve is home to the Museo del Vino and a piazza which is still to this day the heartbeat of the town where, for decades, a traditional market with its stalls selling produce and merchandise bustles and hums every Saturday.
A few more kilometers, and the tour reaches Tenuta di Dudda di Carpineto in Greve, the place where the winery first had its start in 1967 when Giovanni Carlo and Antonio Mario Zaccheo started their business with the dream of producing the best Chianti. At Tenuta Dudda its possible to have guided tours of the estate and the areas dedicated to wine production and refinement or walk in the surrounding vineyards. Tours end with tastings of five of their most important wines: Dogajolo, Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva and Farnito Cabernet Sauvignon.
One more stop a short distance away brings trekkers to the top of a hill for a look at another winery, Tenuta di Gaville with its 65 hectares of bucolic countryside, and from there its on to the final stop high up in an area known as the Maremma to the Tenuta di Gavorrano, walking amongst its 165 hectares with typical Mediterranean woods and beautiful groves of cork oaks. Here, the vineyards slope downward facing towards the sea giving the wines, like the merlot Farnito Valcolomba, intense flavors of the med, and offering trekkers a final stop to unwind and breathe in the autumn air with the scent of the Tuscan earth and the splendor of the perfect getaway.