Travel Review: Tuscan Wine Tours by Grape Tours
Let’s talk about Florence, Italy. Specifically, let’s discuss my Tuscan Wine Tour by Grape Tours. Most of my 2-night stay in the Florence area was spent at wineries. Diving into the wine scene was my number 1 reason for even wanting to visit Florence. Yes, there are plenty of other things to do like visit the Uffizi Gallery or even the Accademia of Fine Arts to see Michaelangelo’s David. I enjoy art but in my mind wine itself is art.
While planning my trip I found Grape Tours. There are so many wine tour options I had a hard time choosing. I’ve been enjoying a wine club membership with Cooper’s Hawk for more than a year so wine just naturally fits into my life now and since I was traveling to a place known for wine, it just made sense to fit in a wine tour or a few. The tour company I traveled with included a wine tour with my package, I’ll tell you about that experience next week when I give you my review of Gate 1 Travel.
Side note: I had the pleasure of talking to the Master Sommelier, Emily Wines with Cooper’s Hawk on her 10th anniversary of passing the Master Sommelier exam. Look out for that conversation in an upcoming edition of Travel Tuesday.
Wine Time is the tour I chose. We visited 3 different wineries including Fattoria Montecchio, Fattoria di Casa Sola, and Casa Emma. Friends have asked me which winery was my favorite but I can’t really say because each of them had their own special gift.
Let me take you through my day
I stayed at Hotel Adriatico in Florence. The hotel is about a 25-minute walk to the wine tour office, Tuscany in a Bottle. The walk along the Arno is definitely not boring. This was a Wednesday morning so I saw a variety of people from tourists to school-age children to business people going to the office. The Ponte Vecchio bridge is along the way. If you don’t know about this bridge, look it up! Very cool.
The office is very easy to find, about 10 minutes from Ponte Vecchio. When you arrive at Tuscany in a Bottle you check-in, grab a cup of joe, meet the people you’ll be on the tour with and then you hop on the coach. The ride to the first winery was comfortable and educational. Our tour guide wasn’t the usual guide. She was filling in and it was a treat because she normally teaches people about wine. It let me know right away this would be educational whether I remembered it or not.
She told us all about the Chianti region where we traveled. It took about 30 minutes to get to Frattoria Montecchio and less than 5 minutes to get to the subsequent wineries.
The guide at each winery educates you about the winery itself, the grapes, barrels, etc. They’ll also talk about their freshly pressed olive oil. I went at a time when they had just harvested the olives. Great time to go!
After touring the first winery our tour guide taught us a little about tasting wine from the way it smells to making sure it goes from the front of your mouth to the back. I’ll be perfectly honest with you, I feel like I understood what she was saying but I would love a deeper dive into this world. She explained the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico as well as DOCG & DOC. The latter refers to government regulations on wine. It’s a way to offer a guarantee to the buyer of the wine’s origin and content. She also introduced us to the world of Super Tuscan. A Super Tuscan is basically a way for the winery to put its personal stamp on the wine with different grapes. Super Tuscan is the way to go!
The landscape of this winery was its own special gift. As you can see in the pics we tried several wines. However, I can’t say that either of them stood out as the best. But there’s a reason for that.
The gift at this winery was the fact that the owner was our guide. It was obvious that he had a passion for the wine business and was quite knowledgeable.
Cute! Tasty! Those are the two words I would use to describe this place. We didn’t go on the usual tour of the winery as we did with the previous two. We sat down and ate food. The most interesting part of the meal was something I’ve never seen before, pasta al pomodoro. Pasta al pomodoro (see last pic) is “made of left over tuscan bread, tomato, olive oil, basil and a little bit of onion”. I finally bought a bottle of wine at Casa Emma.
What set Casa Emma apart?
After thinking about the tour in its entirety I realized why I decided Casa Emma was the place to buy. It was the food. I’ve learned wine is just alcoholic grape juice if you don’t have food to pair it with. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I’m saying you don’t get the true sense of what it can be if you don’t have the flavors of the right dish to bring out the tastes the maker wants you to experience.
With that said, if you decide to go on this wine tour buy a bottle of Chianti Classico or Chianti or a Super Tuscan from every winery if you can. Take the bottle home, pop the bottle to let it breathe, cook up a good meal and sip away. I guarantee you it will taste much different than just tasting it alongside other wines.
Overall the tour was awesome! Italy is an onion. It has so many layers that only by moving there will you see everything that makes it so unique. I highly recommend this tour or any offered by Grape Tours. I wish I could’ve taken a longer tour that lasted the entire day.
If I didn’t answer a question you may have please feel free to ask and I’ll do what I can to answer you.
By the way:
Instead of staying at a hotel you can stay at a winery. Check out the accommodations at Fattoria Montecchio and Fattoria di Casa Sola!