Wineries

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The Mono Varietals of Weinhof Kobler in Magrè (South Tyrol), Italy

The South Tyrolean Wine Route, one of the oldest wine routes in Italy, begins in Nalles, goes through Bolzano, Oltradige, Bassa Atesina then to the border of South Tyrol, Salorno. With the interplay of the vineyards, monuments, and the villages, the route exudes a magnificent scenery. The majority of the wine production in Alto Adige (South Tyrol) is cultivated in this area wherein grape varieties like Merlot, Lagrein, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay find their habitat quite well. For a total surface of 206 hectares, white grape varieties dominate the number by 164 hectares as opposed to the 41 hectares allocated for the red varieties.

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Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio Winery in Marsciano (Umbria), Italy

As you maneuver the electric cart from the winery to the higher part of the town where you pass the town’s church, go through a dusty country road with lots of green then veering to the left, a beautiful corridor of perfectly trimmed hedgerow and old olive trees and finally, to Vigna Lorenzo, the important vineyard of Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio Winery dating back from 217 B.C. bordered by ancient Roman walls and with a breathtaking backdrop of the Umbrian landscape, you wonder: can’t a winery visit be more phenomenal than this?

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Castello di Meleto in Gaiole in Chianti (Tuscany), Italy

It is immersed in the soft hills of Gaiole in Chianti between Florence and Siena. Over the centuries the castle has changed identity and ownership from a military post to a noble country home but its original structure remained. Between noble families and military troops in periods of different wars, the castle withstood time and harsh elements.

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Casa Vinicola Fratelli Casetta in Alba (Piedmont), Italy

When Ernesto Casetta speaks about his wines, you can easily get lost in his stories and the wealth of information that he provides. He has a lifetime of experiences where ups and downs in viticulture formed him into what he and his winery is now. He comes from generations of family with roots in Roero since 1725 where viticulture has always been a main activity. With an average annual production of 300,000 bottles, the first vintages in the early 1960s, then the very first export that went to Japan then succeeded by the US, and a wide range of wines, Ernesto has a lot to be look back on and see what an accomplishment the Casa Vinicola Fratelli Casetta has attained.

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Omina Romana Estate in Velletri (Rome), Italy

When Anton Börner first set foot on the land that was to become the future Omina Romana Estate, the thought of buying the land and plant grapes for wine production was immediate. So in 2004, the 80-hectare hilly terrain on the Alban hills in the town of Velletri went through a thorough process of viticulture. Long periods of studying and experimenting in the volcanic soil with predominantly of clayey with some sandy areas of the land led to the cultivation of grapes in more than 60 hectares of its area.

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Cantina Del Tufaio Winery in Zagarolo (Lazio), Italy

There are some Italian regions that I tend to favor when I have to go through a wine list. I have this usual tendency to go far away from my home region. I live at the outskirt of Rome which is inside the region of Lazio. What I am saying is that I look everywhere but Lazio. Lazio has 30 controlled designation labels, 3 of which are DOCG (Denominazione Origine Controllata e Garantita) and 27 are DOC (Denominazione Origine Controllata).

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Orbelus Winery in Struma Valley, Bulgaria

Just a few minutes away from Villa Melnik Winery, in the village of Kromidovo is Orbelus Winery. We made our way to Orbelus in the darkening sky with a beautiful yellow full moon guiding us. As soon as we approached the winery, we were all mesmerized by its peculiar shape. Right in the middle of a stretch of green hills popped out the winery shaped like a colossal barrel half-buried in the soil. It was an unexpected but aptly shaped architecture.

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Colli di Poianis Winery in Prepotto (Friuli-Venezia Giulia), Italy

In Italy, landscapes can mesmerize anyone passing through the boot-shaped country from north until the southern tip. Different regions have different charming sceneries. Driving through the less trodden roads of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, you are rewarded with a  scenic view of the countryside and as you reach the DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli area , it becomes more picturesque. It is like going through a travel picture you happen to see in a travel guide. Being an important wine area, the view is a patchwork of different shades of green draped softly on hills. Straight rows of vines and manicured grass on soft hills with a light gray road curving its way in the middle of the patchworks. While the sky remains bright blue, I can’t convey in stronger words how beautiful the view is. At a certain point, almost close to the border of Slovenia, I had to ask my husband to stop the car on the side of the road and enjoy the panorama 360 degrees around us. That is Colli Orientali del Friuli.

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Cantina Fratelli Pardi in Montefalco (Umbria), Italy

Pardi is a name that you will encounter often as you walk around the town of Montefalco. You see, the Pardi family specializes in two areas: weaving and wine making. The family, with deep roots in Montefalco started with wine making in 1919 when the three Pardi brothers, Alfredo, Francesco and Alberto, established the Cantina Fratelli Pardi.

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Villa Melnik Winery in Struma Valley, Bulgaria

Villa Melnik is not just a winery that makes good Bulgarian wines. It is not just another wine bottle that you open, pour in a glass and enjoy. It has something unique that makes every single drop special because behind that bottle is sheer dedication by the winemakers Nikola Zikatanov, his wife Lyubka and daughter Militza in making that wine an excellent expression of the Bulgarian terroir, in the Struma River Valley (Southwest Bulgaria).

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Les Garrigues: Venturing into an Unexplored Gastronomic Corner of Catalonia, Spain

Getting to know a place shouldn’t limit us to seeing what is in front of us. It also entails the usage of our senses of smell and taste to get a profound cognizance of why we are in that spot in the first place. When we taste the local gastronomy, it is something that is particularly unique from that place because whatever grows in that land took the characteristics of the soil, climate and other exponents that contribute to its growth. Les Garrigues is an arid land with Mediterranean climate and what grows in their land makes it specially and uniquely theirs. With a little tour of the place, get to know why this hidden gastronomic gem is a place to see, smell and taste.

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Cantina Peppucci in Todi (Umbria), Italy

The wines of Cantina Peppucci stem from the yearning of parents to raise their children well in the countryside of Umbria to commune with nature. It was in the late eighties when Piero Peppucci and his wife Luisa Giontella bought the Monastery of Sant’Antimo, an abandoned 13th-century Benedictine monastery in the middle of the countryside of Todi. Years of big work progressed in restoring it to be the ideal place that they can could finally call home.

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Porta Caeli (Vinero) Winery, Hotel and Spa in Thrace, Turkey

Staying at a hotel as the first group of guests while it was still closed to the public has a surreal effect. Porta Caeli was at its opening phase when our press group was welcomed to indulge in all the facilities the hotel has to offer, including tasting the wines that were aging and the menu proposals that the restaurant was going to offer when their restaurant opens.

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Cantina Todini in Todi (Umbria), Italy

As we veered off the main road, another path in the countryside led us to the entrance of Cantina Todini (Todini Winery) on the left side. The place is tranquil with a picturesque front area. External garden chairs and tables are scattered in an orderly fashion and they overlook a vast landscape of Umbria. There are patches of land,  luscious trees and rows of vineyards like soldiers. It took my breath away.

 

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Tenuta Bellafonte in Bevagna (Umbria), Italy

Collenottolo Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG and Arnèto Spoletino Umbria IGT by Tenuta Bellafonte, two wines that express elegance and the authenticity of the grape varieties in the heart of Umbria. Tenuta Bellafonte owned by Peter Heilbron, is located in a 30-hectare estate in the region of Umbria, not far from the town of Bevagna, near the village of Torre del Colle which is divided into woodlands, orchards of olive trees (mainly Moraiolo and some Frantoio and Leccino varieties) and vineyards. The vineyards occupy 11 hectares of the land between 260 to 320 meters above sea level with the cultivation of the Sagrantino and Spoletino grape varieties.

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Cantina Scacciadiavoli in Montefalco (Umbria), Italy

There’s a peculiar myth behind the name Scacciadiavoli. If you translate it to English, it means to banish the devils. A legend from Johaness de Ruescissa’s Trattato sulla Quintessenza says that in the 18th century, a young woman who was possessed by the devil was made to drink some local red wine by an exorcist who succeeded in dispelling the devil. This particular exorcism event gave its name to the village where the winery stands close to. In 1884, Prince Ugo Boncompagni from Rome had the winery built and he decided to call it Scacciadiavoli.

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Paolo Bea Winery in Montefalco (Umbria), Italy

Drinking the wines of Paolo Bea tilts a lot of things that I learned about wines from my wine classes. To get to know their natural wines, you will just have to leave your bag of knowledge and thoughts outside the door and close it behind you. The best thing to do is enter with a fresh mind, to easily perceive the diverse philosophy of wine making of Paolo Bea and his sons, Giampiero and Giuseppe. Their wines are considered among the best with innumerable commendations, especially internationally where they export 80% of their production to some countries in Asia, North & South America and Europe while the remaining 20% remains in Italy. So when I went there myself for a visit, I was prepared to enter the curious world of Paolo Bea Winery.

Riserva della Cascina in Rome, Italy

Riserva della Cascina in Rome, Italy

If you are flying over Rome and landing in Ciampino Airport, then you must have seen patches of large combed vineyards around it. Riserva della Cascina is just about a kilometer from the Ciampino Airport. The winery is located inside the Appian Way Regional Park, along Regina Viarium, an ancient tree-lined cobblestone Roman road that goes back more than 2,000 years ago. The scenery, as you can imagine, is a stunning mixture of trees, vineyards, and ancient Roman ruins. Having such proximity to the center of Rome, it can easily be visited from the center of the city and it has to be one of the best ways to spend a few hours away from the urban bustle.

Ornellaia Winery in Bolgheri, Italy

Ornellaia Winery in Bolgheri, Italy

You know that something special awaits you as you enter the Cypress Avenue in Bolgheri lined with elegant cypress trees standing like royal soldiers, because like any cypress-lined road in Tuscany, something supremely beautiful is at its midst. My destination – Tenuta dell’Ornallaia (Ornellaia Estate), the winery where excellence is supreme, in both its wines, art and passion.

Poggio Cagnano Boutique Winery in Maremma (Tuscany), Italy
Poggio Cagnano Boutique Winery in Maremma (Tuscany), Italy

One warm and sunny September morning on the Tuscan hilltop of Cagnano, a table with a platter of local Tuscan cheese, a bowl of walnuts, freshly-sliced bread, a bottle of extra virgin olive oil, and a bottle of Poggio Cagnano Altaripa Maremma Toscana DOC 2014 was waiting for us. There was a marvelous view of the Maremma countryside from where I was seated. The gentle sloping hills with olive orchards, perfectly-aligned tall cypress trees, and patches of vineyards fill up the spectacular Tuscan landscape in front of me. It was like stepping inside a glossy photo of showcasing the life in Tuscany. That morning, I couldn’t ask for anything better than being on that chair.

Mosnel Winery in Franciacorta, Italy

Mosnel Winery in Franciacorta, Italy

One hundred and eighty years, five generations, 1876 to present. From Azienda Agricola Barzanò Barboglio to Il Mosnel and finally, simply Mosnel. It all started in in a sixteenth-century villa with vineyards and cellars that was inherited by Rosina Rosa Cacciamatta in the town of Camignone, in the heart of Franciacorta. Rosina is the grandmother of the maternal grandfather of Lucia and Giulio Barzanò, the siblings who now proudly carry the name Mosnel. It’s a family with a long history of viticulture that both brother and sister continue with great passion that their mother, Emanuela Barboglio has instilled in them.

Spiezer Winery in Spiez, Switzerland

Spiezer Winery in Spiez, Switzerland

The Swiss are keeping quiet about something. Their country is not just about superior chocolates, magnificent alps, extravagant watches and private banks. Nature gave them rich soil and excellent micro climates to tinker with so two thousand years ago, they planted grape vines that they use to make outstanding wines. They have six wine regions producing red and white wines with a current percentage of 60% and 40% respectively with the Blauburgunder (Pinot Noir) and Chasselas dominating the grape varieties planted all over the country.

Vino d’Artista Maurizio Pio Rocchi Winery in Tuscania (Lazio), Italy

Vino d’Artista Maurizio Pio Rocchi Winery in Tuscania (Lazio), Italy

Entering the world of wine is not just about opening the bottle and drinking it. There’s a lot more to having that beautiful liquid that emanates vast variations of aromas and flavors. There is an intangible aspect that helps us understand the soul of the wine. It’s that part when you get to know the winemaker and his story. Truthfully, it’s the facet that I love most in my wines, a simple conversation of shared emotions, thoughts and goals from a winemaker to a wine drinker. In every bottle, there is a past, present and future. One morning, I got to know the person behind the winning bottles of Vino d’Artista Maurizio Pio Rocchi Petra rdg 2015 and 2016 in two consecutive years at I Migliori Vini Italiani of Luca Maroni.

Arnaldo Caprai Winery in Montefalco (Umbria), Italy

Arnaldo Caprai Winery in Montefalco (Umbria), Italy

If you love Italian red wine, then you must have heard or tried Sagrantino di Montefalco and if you liked it, then you must know about its leading top quality producer, Arnaldo Caprai. Arnaldo Caprai does not only have the prominence in the quality of its Sagrantino wine but it also has the notability in its role in reviving this autochthonous grape variety in Montefalco, Umbria. The Sagrantino grape has been cultivated in the region for more than four hundred years, then it  went through a period of diminished activity until Marco Caprai, son of Arnaldo Caprai, focused his interest in the disappearing grape and reestablished it in Montefalco in the late 1980s.