Three must-visit wineries in Tuscany, the mother wine country
Locanda Vesuna in Tuscan village of Pienza / photo courtesy of Michelle Baime
The ultimate vacation should include beautiful strangers, large amounts of horsepower and plenty to drink (after the horses have been put back into the stable). Thus we tripped through the most famed wine country in the world in Audi's latest sports sedan, the awesome A7: Tuscany, from the Chianti region down to Montepulciano and Montalcino. Fall is the best time to visit wine country in the northern hemisphere. The vineyards are bustling with the harvest. With crisp air and steaming risotto, a full-bodied red is bliss. Let us recommend an itinerary. Can't make it? Sip the reds pictured below--each a vacation in a bottle.
From left: Contucci Vino Nobile di Montepuciano Riserva 2006 ($34), Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico 2008 ($18), CastelGiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2006 ($56).
PIENZA Spread out across Italy are agriturismos, inns with magnificent kitchens where only foods from local farms can be served. Locanda Vesuna (top) sits among hay fields outside the Tuscan village of Pienza. Wake up and the wonderful caretaker has a huge breakfast ready. Spend the day at a nearby town such as Montalcino (20 minutes by car), where brunello, the queen of Italian wines, is made. Then return to the inn for a dynamite dinner and another bottle under the stars.
CHIANTI An hour from Pienza you will find Chianti, the best known of all Italian wine regions. It has amazing vistas, and the wine--made mostly of the sangiovese grape, like all reds of this region--is importante, as the Italians would say. Pictured: Rocca delle Macie, a vineyard with an agriturismo on the property (riservadifizzano.com) that features a cool pool scene in summer so you can sip and stare at beautiful bikinis at the same time.
MONTEPULCIANO Here is one of the quaintest cities the human eye will ever encounter. Cobblestone alleys jaunt up and down hills, lined with storefronts full of handmade shoes and bowls of fresh pasta. The city is surrounded by grape fields carved into the rolling countryside. Don't miss the Contucci winery, where barrels of wine age in subterranean caves dug out in the 13th century. And the vino? Bellissimo.