Ciao a tutti…
We are delighted to bring you part 2 of our favorite Tuscan wineries. In part 1, we focused on our 2 favorite smaller wineries, Innocenti and Podere Albiano. In this edition, we are going to take a look at our 2 favorite larger wine producers.
We were first introduced to Avignonesi by two dear friends of ours. Avignonesi is an impressive winery located just about 30 minutes from Fonte Martino – halfway between historic Montepulciano and the hillside village of Cortona. During the drive to Avignonesi, you are greeted with sweeping rolling hills covered with manicured vineyards. After driving down a cypress-lined drive, you arrive at a beautiful complex of buildings that include a tasting room, restaurant, wine processing facilities, and cellars.
Avignonesi offers many experiences ranging from a tour and taste, to cooking classes and even hot air balloon rides. One of the experiences we enjoyed with friends was “The Grand Experience”. We started with a tour with one of Avignonesi’s knowledgeable guides who provided explanations on the importance placed on creating the perfect environment to produce the best grapes and ultimately the best wine. Touring the cellars is like going back in time and we could feel the history in each stone used to build their incredible cellars.
After the tour, we were guided to a panoramic terrace to enjoy a multi-course lunch. Each delicious gourmet course consisted of a seasonal dish featuring organic and locally sourced ingredients, many of which came from Avignonesi’s own gardens. In addition, there was also wine specially selected to complement each course, adding perfection to an already wonderful day. We certainly suggest our guests enjoy “The Grand Experience” at Avignonesi…just be sure to reserve in advance because space is limited.
Our next favorite larger wine producer is La Braccesca, which is in a similar location like Avignonesi. There are two souls to La Braccesca because of its location. The first is steeped in tradition of producing the most noble of wines, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The second is the innovative one that produces Syrah of Cortona. Both come together in a wonderful marriage that blends tradition and innovation to create La Braccesca.
We were introduced to La Braccesca when Elisa, who is tasked with Hospitality and Public Relations for La Braccesca, extended an invitation for us to be introduced to the winery. Upon arriving, we could immediately feel that although La Braccesca is a larger producer, it feels much like a family operation. Their manicured grounds lead to an impressive tasting room where they also hold cooking classes and lunches.
Elisa gave us a tour of their vineyards and explained how there were two souls. In fact, you can even see a divide in the vineyards that separates the traditional soul from the innovative one. After, she guided us back to the tasting room where we ventured down a spiral staircase into their impressive cellars. The cellar felt like a cathedral due to its remarkable size and there were barrels of wine as far as the eye could see.
After the tour, we returned to the tasting room where Elisa pointed out the area used for their cooking classes. These intimate classes usually consist of learning to make pici, a traditional pasta from the area, and a dessert. With advance reservations, lunch can also be enjoyed at La Braccesca. Elisa explains that it is a light lunch, but based on our experience, you should arrive hungry!
Although both Avignonesi and La Braccesca are larger producers of wine, you can feel the sense of family among the staff whose only goal is to provide you with a wonderful experience. The quality and care that goes into producing the selection of wines from both estates makes it very easy for us to recommend these Tuscan wineries to our guests…