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If you are planning a trip to Italy, most likely you’ll want to include a wine tour through the many famous vineyards of Tuscany. I’ll be honest that I am not a “wino” and instead would rather enjoy an ice cold beer, but a chance to immerse myself in the long history of the area while also taking in some great views was something I couldn’t pass up. During the research stage of planning this trip, I scrolled through many beautiful wineries scattered throughout the countryside just south of Florence and eventually came across Barone Ricasoli, the oldest winery in Italy. There’s something pretty cool about being able to say, “I visited the oldest winery in Italy”, which was the overall reason we put Ricasoli on our can’t miss list.
Getting To Ricasoli
We would be departing from the north-central city of Florence and ending our day in Genoa on the west coast of Italy, so it was important for us to chose a winery that was somewhat along the way. Ricasoli luckily fit the bill and even gave us an opportunity to cruise through the narrow roads and rolling hills of Tuscany. We chose an early tour time, 10:30 AM, so that we would make it to our accommodation in Genoa at a reasonable time. Many other wineries in the area had only afternoon tours as an option which wouldn’t have worked with our itinerary.
The drive from Florence to the Chianti Classico area was fairly simple until we got within fifteen minutes of the castle. We used the address that is posted at the bottom of the website, but that actually directed us to what we assumed was their offices in town. We then plugged in the address for the wine shop, Loc. Madonna a Brolio 53013 Gaiole di Chianti, which took us directly to where they produce the wine. Just past that you’ll see two pillars or columns framing a one lane road that leads you directly up to the castle, which is where the wine tour begins.
It took us approximately 1.5 hours from Florence, but I recommend giving yourself plenty of time in case you get lost
The Tour And Tasting
The two-hour Classic Tour begins at the Brolio Castle with a short introduction to the history of the Chianti Classico area and the Ricasoli family. The Ricasoli family has been documented to be in control of the Brolio Castle since 1141 and part of the castle is dedicated to showcasing many historical items such as weapons, furniture, and scientific equipment that the family used to perfect their wines. As you pass through the rooms that sit atop the original foundation, the guide will share stories of the pivotal role the Ricasoli family played in not only winemaking but politics and even the unification of Italy.
You’ll be shown old cellars and fermenting techniques that have been used for centuries as you tour the grounds. As you make your way to the overlook for a spectacular view of the vineyards, you’ll also see scars left on the walls of the castle from various battles as the guide relays stories from hundreds of years ago.
To continue your tour, you’ll hop back into your car and meet a different guide in the wine shop that will lead you through how the wine is produced today. We were walked through the winemaking process starting with grape picking all the way to wine bottling. We caught a glimpse of the fermentation process as well as the barrel room before we were escorted to our wine tasting table.
You’ll taste three wines while treated to a plethora of information about the qualities of each wine. When you are finished you can step into the wine shop to continue to taste various wines and even order bottles that can be shipped to your home (depending on where you live). I won’t pretend to be a wine connoisseur, but I will tell you that the wine produced at Ricasoli tasted absolutely amazing and the tour through the castle was a perfect side venture to our jaunt across northern Italy.