Italian wine is absolutely legendary for its superb flavor, the diversity of grapes and the versatility of its taste making it easy to pair with any dish of your choice. However, none of this would be possible without the winemaking traditions that have been passed down through the generations and the nation’s top wineries where the magic really happens.
What is a winery? A winery produces, ferments, bottles and ages wine on-site. The vast majority of wineries have their own vineyards which means that they are able to control the entire process of creating wine, from planting the grape seeds to bottling the finishing product. This allows top wineries to develop unique vintages that have distinctive flavors which are derived from the environmental conditions of the vineyard as well as the precise processes used to create the vintage.
As well as producing wine, many wineries operate tours and tasting sessions for visitors. This gives members of the public the opportunity to learn more about the process of making wine as well as sample products and purchase wine directly from the winery at a reduced rate. Increasing numbers of wineries also have an on-site restaurant, shop or events spaces where weddings and other celebrations can be hosted.
Wineries are a vital component of the wine industry in Italy. Not only do they maintain the strict traditions of quality that have been passed down through the generations but they also ensure an exciting diversity in the wine that’s available to the consumer.
The following are the most popular wineries of Italy:
Marchesi Antinori, or simply Antinori for short, is a family-run winemaking business that was founded in 1385 in Florence, Tuscany. Antinori is part of the Primum Familiae Vini (PFV) and is considered to be the 10th oldest family-run company in the world! In fact, the 26th generation of the Antinori family is currently managing its prestigious wineries that are located in some of Italy’s best wine-growing regions. The winery is between Florence and San Gimignano.
During the 1970s, the ever-innovative Antinori played a major role in creating and promoting the new ‘Super Tuscan’ wine. ‘Super Tuscan’ wine refers to a Tuscan-made blended red wine, usually from the Chianti region, that controversially incorporates international grapes such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon into the mix.
Antinori has numerous world-class estates in Italy although the most famous is undoubtedly the Tignanello winery. The Tignanello winery is situated on a 47-hectare plot in the Santa Cristina estate in Lazio that was bought by the family in 1900.
The Tignanello vineyard also has one of Antinori’s best-known wines named after it. Tignanello wine is made with a blend of 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet France. Tignanello wine was designated an official Vino da Tavola in the 1970s and an IGT Toscana in the 1990s.
In 2012, the Antinori family opened their first winery that was purpose-designed to welcome members of the public and wine enthusiasts to learn about the philosophy and processes of their operation. The Antinori nel Chianti Classico winery, located to the South of Florence, has an on-site gallery that celebrates and conserves art related to Tuscany and winemaking as well as a beautiful rooftop restaurant and a shop that sells the finest wines from the family’s numerous estates.
The Allegrini winery is situated on 150 hectares of chalky soils that provide the ideal conditions and raw materials for a superb vineyard. The winery is close to Verona. Set on stunning stately grounds, the winery is as romantic in appearance as it is excellent in its production techniques. The superb reputation and fame of Allegrini is largely due to its Amarone wines, however, its wines made from non-DOC regional grapes, such as Syrah and Corvina, are also hugely successful both in Italy and abroad.
The Allegrini winery was founded more than 400 years ago and is the world’s leading producer of Amarone wines. This distinctive style of wine is made from dried grapes giving the red wine a robust flavor with relatively high alcohol content. As a result, the Allegrini winery has long been a centerpiece of the region’s viticultural heritage and still plays a significant role in maintaining the local reputation for producing unparalleled red wines.
Located in Piedmont, the Marchesi di Barolo winery has been in operation for over 200 years. However, it was only after the second half of the 19th Century that it began producing the legendary Barolo wine. Made using the Nebbiolo grape, Barolo is widely considered to be one of Italy’s finest red wines.
In fact, while Thomas Jefferson was staying in Turin in 1787 he tasted wine made from the Nebbiolo grape. He was so impressed that he wrote in his diary, ‘As silky as Madeira, as astringent as Bordeaux and as brisk as Champagne.’
Set in the rolling hills of Piedmont, halfway between Turin and Genoa, the Marchesi di Barolo winery is located in the heart of the small town of Barolo. Exquisitely beautiful and epitomizing the rural idyll of the Dolce Vita, the Marchesi di Barolo is open to the public for tastings and visits.
The Marchesi di Barolo offers visitors the opportunity to taste their magnificent wines in guided tasting sessions. Each tasting includes several glasses of wine, including Barolo, that are paired with artisanal grissini, traditional breadsticks and a platter of cheeses and cold cuts. The tasting session includes a visit to the renowned wine cellars beneath the estate.
For a more immersive experience, you can visit the on-site Restaurant of Marchesi di Barolo. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, serving the best of gourmet Langhe cuisine. Of course, each course in your meal is paired with a perfect wine from the estate. When you visit the restaurant for a meal you can also enjoy a 30 to 45 minutes guided tour of the Marchesi di Barolo wine cellars.
In keeping with the times, the Marchesi di Barolo winery also runs an online store that includes an extensive collection of the winery’s produce. This means that even if you can’t visit in person, you can still taste some of Italy’s premier wines, all made at one of the nation’s most famous wineries.
Ornellaia winery first planted its grapes in 1981 and produced its first vintage in 1985 to great acclaim. This newcomer on the traditional Italian winery scene was established by Marchese Lodovico Antinori, of the legendary winemaking Antinori family, with the loyal assistance of the well-known winemaker Tibor Gal.
This modern winery is situated in Bolgheri, in Tuscany, and is one of the nation’s leading producers of Super Tuscan wines. Ornellaia winery also creates the respected Le Serre Nuove, the Masseto and the Le Volte wines.
As well as producing magnificent wines, the Ornellaia winery was also designed to provide a spectacular hospitality experience for visitors and members of the public. If you book a tour then you’ll be led through the beautiful estates and be able to see the newly established Vendemmia d’Artista art collection. While you’re at the winery, you can also reserve your place for a gourmet Ornellaia Wine Dinner. Starting with welcome drinks at twilight, you’ll enjoy a Mediterranean-themed dinner that is paired with wines from the Ornellaia vineyards.
Alternatively, if you’d like to take in the magnificent views of Bolgheri as you eat, you can reserve your spot on the popular Ornellaia Picnic. During the picnic, you’ll sit beneath the ancient Bellaria oak trees and sip wine that was grown in the vineyards that surround you.
Founded in 1830 by the Tasca Almerita family in Sicily, the winery takes advantage of the island’s volcanic soils to produce rich-tasting wine that brings out the best of the native grapes. Producing a wide range of wines, including the Riserva del Conte, Vigna San Francesco Cabernet Sauvignon and the Vigna San Francesco Chardonnay, the Tasca D’Almerita epitomizes the ultimate in Sicilian viticulture.
The winery was first established on the Tenuta Regaleali estate which is made up of 550 hectares in the very heart of Sicily’s wine territories. Following the huge success of the original vineyards, Tasca d’Almerita launched another 4 sites over the years including the Tascante on Etna, Capofaro on Salina, Tenuta Sallier de La Tour in Montreale and Tenuta Whitaker on the island of Mozia.
The Tasca D’Almerita wineries in Sicily operate an extremely wide range of experiences for visitors and guests to its vast estates and properties. These can be explored in-depth on the winery’s website and include tastings, overnight stays, guided tours and more.
Italian Wineries Produce The World’s Finest Wines.
Italy’s wineries are the backbone of one of the nation’s most popular exports. Italian wine is made with passion, generations of understanding the land and the processes as well as a constant willingness to adapt and change with the times.
So even hundreds of years after Italy’s winemakers first hit the headlines, their skill, craft and expertise cannot be matched by anyone else on Earth. Thankfully, many top wineries have opened their doors to allow visitors to explore the winemaking processes, see the cellars and even stay on the estates. This means that you can not only taste the fantastic vintages but you can truly immerse yourself in the legendary winemaking culture of Italy.