Top 10 Most Luxurious Italian Wineries

Discovering wine where it is made is one of the great joys of traveling to a new country.  When it comes to the Mediterranean, wine tourism, is a veritable Disney World.

Whether a casual tourist or dedicated oenophile (wine connoisseur), Italy in particular has so much to offer.  In fact, il bel paese has 383,000 wine-producing estates, with an average vineyard size of 2.5 acres (1.64 hectares).

The thing is that industrial firms produce 80% of international Italian wines sales, leaving a plethora of wineries only accessible for travelers in Italy.

For those brave wine-travelers willing to make the trip, there are a range of experiences to enjoy.

  • Newlyweds – large and small estates often host wedding ceremonies and banquets overlooking vineyards.
  • History-buffs – enjoy the museums like Museo del Vino in Torgiano, in the central Italian region of Umbria or Museo del Vetro da Vino in Banfi, Tuscany
  • Couples – Vespa-tours are a typical retreat for local romantic couples in need of a weekend adventure.
  • Health enthusiasts – vinotherapy “wellness” getaways featuring spa treatments, thermal baths, bicycle tours, treks into the surrounding hills/mountains, and organic wine tastings will leave your mind and palate refreshed.
  • Foodies – authentic Italian cooking classes almost always provide wine tastings of the best local wines as part of their programs.

That said, there are a handful of grandiose wine monuments that are can’t miss for any wine lover going to Italy.

Here are 10 of the most luxurious Italian wineries:

  • il Carapace winery

    • Lunelli Tenuta Castelbuono Vocabolo Castellaccio, 9, 06031 Bevagna, Perugia (PG), Italy – design by Arnaldo Pomodoro

    • The sculptor, Arnaldo Pomodoro, designed il Carapace to resemble a tortoise shell, a metaphor for the passing of time.  A family friend to the Lunelli family – owners of Tenuta Castelbuono – Pomodoro added a deeply grooved copper exterior knowing it would oxidize over time.  As a result, the structure’s earth tones integrate perfectly with the surrounding landscape.
the Lunelli 'il Carapace' winery
the Lunelli ‘il Carapace’ winery
  • Rocca di Frassinello winery

    • Località Giuncarico Scalo, 58023 Gavorrano (GR), Italy – design by Renzo Piano

    • This exquisite Rocca di Frassinello cellar is a 50m2 structure that is embedded into a fertile hilltop in the Maremma region of Tuscany.  This monument to wine was designed by Renzo Piano, the architect probably most famous for the Centre Pompidou in Paris.  Stroll through the property – jointly created by Paolo Panerai and the Rothschild family – and its 500 hectares before taking a moment to experience the whimsical light effects in the cellar’s glass pavilion.
Rocca di Frassinello winery
Rocca di Frassinello winery
  • Cà Marcanda winery

    • 57022 Castagneto Carducci, Province of Livorno (LI), Italy – design by Giovanni Bo

    • In 1996, Angelo Gaja of GAJA Winery in Piemonte took over the land now part of Cà Marcanda after lengthy negotiations with the previous owners.  Once the sale was finalized, the events were codified for posterity as the name Ca’ Marcanda means ‘the house of endless negotiations’.  In 2000, architect Giovanni Bo completed construction, which adds a luxurious unifying force to the estate’s 120 hectares.
the Lunelli 'il Carapace' winery
the Lunelli ‘il Carapace’ winery
  • Petra winery

    • San Lorenzo alto, 131, 57028, Suvereto (LI), Italy – design by Mario Botta

    • Lombardi developer Vittorio Moretti’s wondrous Petra winery in Suvereto is the pinnacle of his wine empire, Gruppo Terra Moretti.  Located at the southern limits of Livorno lies the area known as Val di Cornia, known for its unique microclimate.  Here the Petra winery vineyard’s approximately 94 hectares are overseen by Vittorio’s daughter, Francesca.  The the winery’s monumental cellar, designed by Mario Botta, is situated at the top for magnificent views of the surrounding hills.
Petra winery at Terre Moretti - Suvereto - by Mario Botta
Petra winery designed by architect Mario Botta
  • Cappella del Brunate (Brunate Chapel) or Cappella del Barolo (Barolo Chapel)

  • 12064 La Morra, Province of Cuneo (CN), Italy – design by David Tremlett & Sol Lewitt

    • The powerfully emotive colors of Cappella del Brunate stand in stark contrast to the standard chapel.  This was the intention Piemontese winemaker, Bruno Ceretto, had when restoring the Cappella del BrunateInstead of storing tractors and other equipment to tend the vineyard, Bruno wanted to make a statement.  Consequently, he commissioned British artist David Tremlett for the inside and American artist Sol LeWitt, for the outside.  On September 11, 1999 the chapel was opened to all denominations with its bold primary colors standing out as a piece of rural modern art.
Ceretto
Cappella del Brunate (Brunate Chapel)
  • Feudi di San Gregorio

    • Località Cerza Grossa, 83050 Sorbo Serpico, Avellino (AV), Italy – design by Hikaru Mori & Maurizio Zito

    • Feudi di San Gregorio has 300 hectares of vineyards, and today is run by Antonio Capaldo in Sorbo Serpico, in the province of Avellino in the larger region of Campania.  Designed by Japanese architect Hikaru Mori and her Italian husband, Maurizio Zito, the design was intentionally minimal to limit environmental impact.  All aspects have been careful considered.  Take for instance, the food offerings; the property includes a Michelin-starred restaurant, Marennà.
Sorbo Serpico - Hikaru Mori & Maurizio Zito
Feudi di San Gregorio – Hikaru Mori and Maurizio Zito
  • Cantina Tramin

    • Strada del Vino, 144, 39040 Termeno Bolzano (BZ), Italy – design by Werner Tscholl

    • Cantina Tramin is metal, concrete, and glass landmark that stands out, yet blends into the vineyards all at once.  This utilitarian structure has multiple levels to benefit visitors and workers alike.  The site carries on their the cellar’s legacy through a converted foyer that was part of the preexisting cellar.  The past melds perfectly with the present at Cantina Tramin as the two main wings hold offices, reception rooms, a museum, and wine shop all with expansive views.
Cantina Tramin
Cantina Tramin
  • Tenuta dell’Ammiraglia

  • Marchesi dè Frescobaldi, Strada Provinciale Montiano, 222, 58051 Località La Capitana, Grosseto (GR), Italy – design by Piero Sartogo and Natalie Grenon

    • The Frescobaldi estate is located in Magliano, which lies in the heart of the Maremma region of Tuscany.  Brimming with natural beauty, loads of sunshine, and marine breezes it is the perfect setting for winemaking.  All of these factors contribute to the exceptional variety of Ammiraglia wines.  The Frescobaldi’s new cellar, Tenuta dell’Ammiraglia, was designed by Piero Sartogo and Nathalie Grenon and its contours seem to flow in tandem with the surrounding landscape.
Tenuta dell'Ammiraglia
Tenuta dell’Ammiraglia
  • Antinori nel Chianti Classico

  • Via Cassia per Siena, 133, 50026 Bargino, Florence (FI), Italy – design by Marco Casamonti (Archea Associati)

    • Located 20 minutes south of Florence, the cantina has been showcasing the Antinori family’s love of Chianti Classico since 2012.  The Florentine firm, Archea, designed the contemporary structure to include a panoramic terrace, restaurant, museum, shop, and even a 200-seat auditorium.  Opening in 2012, Antinori took nearly a decade and a cool $110 million to be constructed.  When one considers that the estate stretches over 540,000 square feet it is simply a behemoth not to miss.  Climb the Antinori terrace’s spiral stair to the planted roof for exceptional views.
Cantina Antinori
Cantina Antinori
  • Bolle Nardini at Distilleria Bartolo Nardini

  • Via Madonna di Monte Berico, 7, 36061 Bassano del Grappa, Vincenza (VI), Italy – design by Massimiliano Fuksas

    • In 1779, the oldest Italian grappa distillery, Bortolo Nardini, was born.  While not technically a winery, the futuristic structure of Bolle Nardini is simply too mesmerizing to omit.  The Bolle structure lies a few kilometers from the actual grapperia where the grappa is produced.  Enjoy a guided tour of this futuristic work by Massimiliano Fuksas, and learn about Nardini’s distillation techniques and of its grappa.
    • https://www.nardini.it/en/corporate/places

 

Distilleria Bartolo Nardini
Bolle Nardini

 

 

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All the Way Up with Albugnano – Albugnano DOC Red Wines for Spring 2020

Albugnano DOC red wine

The Italian municipality, Albugnano, where Albugnano DOC red wines are produced has the highest elevation within all larger Piemonte region.

Regional Characteristics – Albugnano DOC Red Wines

It is a precariously situated village, and is home to among the coolest climates within Italy where vineyards grow.

Albugnano DOC red wine
The municipality of Castelnuovo Don Bosco – elevation 306 m (1,004 ft) – part of the Albugnano DOC production area.

This colder climate imparts a crisp, yet fruity undertone, which coincidently are not unlike those of the southern Aglianico del Vulture Superiore DOCG reds from Basilicata.

The wine is unique in that Albugnano DOC exudes a freshness unlike other wines from Piemonte. They are lower profile wines and are therefore more affordable.

Albugnano DOC red wine
The municipality of Pino d’Asti – elevation 412 m (1,352 ft) – also, part of the Albugnano DOC production area.

The Albugnano DOC was established in 1997 and the two wines the region produces are rosé (rosato) and red (rosso) wines.

Rosé 
Rosato: at least 85% Nebbiolo with a maximum 15% of Barbera, Bonarda, and/or Freisa wine varieties.

Red wine
Rosso: at least 85% Nebbiolo with a maximum 15% of Barbera, Bonarda, and/or Freisa wine varieties.
Superiore: a rosso that is aged a minimum of one year, including six months in a barrel.

 

Albugnano DOC red wine
Balangero Chiesa San Giacomo – Catholic church in Balangero, Italy

 

The fruity wine encompasses hints of raspberry to wild strawberry and is delightfully paired with floral and spicy flavors, as well as balsamic aromas, much like the southern Italian rosé, Alezio DOC (from Apulia).

Producers – Albugnano DOC Red Wines

A few of my favorite producers of Albugnano DOC include:

Alle Tre Colline

This gem will make you appreciate true hospitality, as the Carossa family will welcome you into their quaint vineyard.

Azienda Agrituristica Alle Tre Colline is found in the heart of Monferrato and despite its relatively young history develops a number of delicious wines. #AlleTreColline #cena #Albugnano #Piemonte @ColleManoraWine Click To Tweet

The vineyard was founded in 1999 by Edoardo and Orsolina Carossa and then passed the farm onto their son Franco who now runs it with his wife and their three children.

The company develops 35 hectares of land and hosts beautiful accommodation.

Alle Tre Colline
Vezzolano 60 Albugnano
http://www.alletrecolline.com

 

Ca’ Mariuccia

Ca’ Mariuccia s.s.a. can be found on the Monferrato hills where they run an ethical farm aimed at using sustainable, eco-friendly methods and practices.

In addition to running a successful vineyard, Ca ‘Mariuccia also serves as a Piedmontese agriturismo where visitors can enjoy a range of farming activities. #cena #Albugnano #CaMariuccia #Piemonte @ColleManoraWine Click To Tweet

Their aim is to create an awareness of climate change and a sustainable farming culture while incorporating ancient techniques.

You can have a relaxing stay in their bed and bed and breakfast, enjoy a lovely wine tasting and eat wonderful Italian pizza.

Ca’ Mariuccia
Fraz. San Emiliano, 2 – 14022 – Albugnano (AT)
http://www.camariuccia.it

 

Badia di Morrona

Badia di Morrona has been run by the Gaslini Alberti family since 1939 and now run a total of 600 hectares, with 110 hectares dedicated purely to the vineyard.

The unique estate can house 120 guests, who can enjoy regular wine tours and breathtaking vistas for any hosted event.

Badia di Morrona
Via del Chianti, 6, 56030 Terricciola – Pisa
http://www.gaslinialberti.it

 

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All About Alba – 3x Alba DOC Wine Producers to Visit in Spring 2020

Vineyards of Alba, Piemonte

The municipalities in the Italian province of Cuneo – part of the Piemonte (Piedmont) region – produce a variety of delicious Alba DOC red wines.

Vineyards of Alba, Piemonte
Vineyards where Alba DOC is produced

Regional History – Alba DOC wines

While the region may be most know as being home to the Ferrero Chocolate company, it is also a highly regarded center of wine with 300 wineries producing Alba wines.

The region hosts a rich history in the heart of Piemonte. The Celtic and Ligurian clans settled within the region in pre-Roman times, and their history consists of a never ending war as the Burgundians, Lombards and Franks began to rival over the region.

Consorzio di tutela Barolo, Barbaresco, Alba, Langhe e Dogliani
the governing body of Alba DOC – Consorzio di tutela Barolo, Barbaresco, Alba, Langhe e Dogliani

The Savoy family eventually oversaw the region until Italy was unified as one. The region is rich in vineyards and food, and is the perfect destination for wine enthusiasts.

Chiesa della Cattedrale in Alba
Can’t miss cathedral in Alba – Chiesa della Cattedrale

There are a number of small family run vineyards to visit, as well as larger international vineyards.  When you do find yourself with a bottle of Alba DOC before yourself, take note of the delightful floral petals, cherry, pomegranate, and delightful spice fragrances similar to another Piemonte red wine, Albugnano DOC.

This is paired with a lovely taste balsamic tones. The best tastes to pair the wine with are lovely roasted chicken, pastries, and even chocolate. Alba was established as a DOC wine in 2010.

Panoramic view of Alba, Province of Cuneo, Italy
Panoramic view of Alba, in the Province of Cuneo, Italy

Alba DOC wines producers

I highly recommend visiting a few trusted Alba DOC producers on your next trip to the province of Cuneo (Piemonte, Italy):

Azienda Agricola Abrigo Fratelli

Azienda Agricola Abrigo Fratelli is located in the heart of Langhe in Diano d’Alba, and has been family run since 1935. The Abrigo family oversees 27 hectares of vineyards. They owe their success to a careful combination of tradition and technology of today. The grapes are grown and harvested with great care, and the vineyard produces the coveted wine. They produce around 35 000 bottles annually.

https://www.abrigofratelli.it

Azienda Agricola Abrigo Fratelli
Via Moglia Gerlotto 2, 12055 Diano d’Alba (CN)

 

Azienda Agricola Abrigo Giovanni

The slighter younger family run Azienda Agricola Abrigo Giovanni is a breath taking vineyard named after it’s founder. Giovanni Abrigo founded the land in 1968 initially as a farm raising cattle and cultivating crops and the vineyard. By the 1980’s Giovanni’s son and daughter in law began to help run the business and helped cultivate the world renowned image it has today. They host a tasting room and cellar for visitors to visit. Giovanni’s grandchildren Giulio and Sergio have since joined the ream in 2013 and 2015. Wine flows through the veins of the Abrigo family and it is a must to experience.

https://www.abrigo.it

Azienda Agricola Abrigo Giovanni
Via Santa Croce, 9, 12055 Diano d’Alba (CN) Italy

 

Poderi Sinagli

A must stay is Poderi Sinagli, a cozy vineyard where you can spend a few nights relaxing, sipping wine and if you’re feeling adventurous you could go horseback riding throughout the vineyard. The estate hosts multiple hiking paths as well and is a wonderful place to unwind. Their cellars produce multiple Alba DOC and DOCG wines such ad Dolcetto di Diano d’Alba.

http://www.poderisinaglio.it/index.html

Poderi Sinagli
Via Sinaglio n.5 – Frazione Ricca di Diano d’Alba – 12055 Diano d’Alba

 

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3 Top Alta Langa DOCG Wines from Piemonte, Italy

Alta Langa DOCG is Piemonte, Italy’s spumante, or sparkling wine designation.

While many new sparkling wine regions are popping up around the world, Piemonte has almost as long a history as Champagne of producing bubblies.  Aside from Alta Langa DOCG, Piemonte also produces the spumante, ASTI DOCG.

Since the mid-19th century, Italian wine producers in this region have been creating sparkling wines made of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, using the Italian take on the Champagne method… the Piemontese Metodo Classico.

Alta Langa DOCG
the Consorzio Alta Langa – the governing body of Alta Langa DOCG wines

Alta Langa DOCG – Terminology references

  • cuvée – first-pressed
  • Metodo Classico – a sparkling wine that utilizes the bottle fermentation process, which originates from the Champagne region of France
  • spumante – a sparkling dry or sweet wine

The strict regulations behind the Alta Langa DOCG have quickly helped it to gain in reputation in the last 20 years: the wines must be 100% Pinot Noir or Chardonnay (or a combination of the two), they must be aged on lees for at least 30 months, they must be vintage wines, and they must be brut or zero dosage.

The Alta Langa Consorzio, founded in 2001, worked quickly to get the DOC designation for Alta Langa in 2002, and then, building on the rising reputation of the wines, was able to apply for and receive DOCG designation in 2011.

Here are a few of my favorite producers of the Alta Langa DOCG:

 

Fontanafredda

Fontanafredda winery was originally bought by King Vittorio Emanuele II as a gift to his mistress Rosa Vercellana in 1858, and this love story has continued to pulse through the wines today.

Based in the Barolo region, they produce a number of wines, but were instrumental in creating the Alta Langa Spumante designation.

Visiting guests to the winery are surprised by the realization that Fontanafredda is its own self-contained village, with hotels, restaurants, and of course, numerous wine tastings and vineyard tours throughout the 122-hectare property.

Fontanafredda
Via Alba, 15 12050 – Serralunga d’Alba (CN), Italy
http://www.fontanafredda.it/site/en/home_en/

 

Giulio Cocchi

In the late nineteenth century, Giulio Cocchi was a pastry chef from Florence who moved to Asti, fell in love with a girl at a bar (still called Bar Cocchi now), and further fell in love with the sparkling and aromatized wines of the region.

He founded his namesake winery in 1891, and while Cocchi Americano is a bartender favorite nowadays, sparkling wines were always a focus of his.

In the 1970’s, the estate began producing a Spumante Brut Metodo Champenois, a top product and forerunner of the Alta Langa Metodo Classico Wines. The current owners of Giulio Cocchi, the Bava Family, continued his heritage of sparkling wine production, and were key players in pushing through the Alta Langa DOCG.

Giulio Cocchi Spumanti Srl
via Liprandi, 21 – 14023 Cocconato – Asti, Italy
https://www.cocchi.it/en/

 

Enrico Serafino

Since 1878 Enrico Serafino has been making Metodo Classico sparkling wines in Canale d’Alba. Today it is still family owned and operated, continuing the tradition that Enrico started so long ago.

Their Alta Langa vineyard, La Soprana, is high in the hills and has very rocky, marl soils, which lead to low yields and help to concentrate the wines in the cellar.

The underground cellars at Enrico Serafino, which have existed since the very beginning, are still used to age the Metodo Classico wines, of which there are five different cuvees.

Enrico Serafino S.r.l. Azienda Vitivinicola
Corso Asti, 5 – 12043 Canale (CN), Italy
https://www.enricoserafino.it/en/

 

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Gavi DOCG White Wine – the Civilized Choice from Piemonte

 

Gavi DOCG white wine was awarded its DOC status in 1973, and upgraded to DOCG in 1998. However, this short-sounding history hides the extensive cultivation of the Cortese grape, which Gavi is exclusively made from, that has been occurring in this area since the 1600’s.

discover Gavi DOCG wines on MEDmangia
town of Gavi in Piemonte, Italy

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