Imagine waking up in a beautifully and tastefully renovated old villa and pulling back the shutters and seeing a resplendent sea of perfectly tended vines in front of you. You slept soundly after a couple of delicious glasses of wine made from those very vines that greet you on the beautiful sunny morning.
You also enjoyed the olive oil and grappa that comes from this very spot, the former picked from olive trees growing on the estate and the latter made from what remains after the grapes have been pressed and given their juice to make wine. You start to see the bigger picture in this verdant, hilly area that’s steeped in history and dotted with old stone villas and castles, and you’re surrounded by the vineyards that are part of the oldest official wine region in Italy, if not the world.
You’re fortunate enough to be in the pulsating heart of Chianti, which was a name first used to describe the vineyards that lie between the powerful city-states of Florence and Sienna in the 13th century. Later, Cosimo III de’ Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, legally classified some of Chianti’s key winemaking hotspots on September 24, 1716, delimiting the land around the village of Radda, Gaiole, Castellina and Greve, thus founding Chianti Classico.
Staying in a Chianti winery hotel brings a new perspective on Chianti and goes a long way to putting the pieces of the complicated Chianti jigsaw into place. It may not be the easiest puzzle to solve but the rewards are entirely worth it. Spending a few days at a working winery is a great way to comprehend the nuances of Chianti, and to find out first-hand what the differences are between the distinctive parts of Chianti. You can meet the winemakers, the families who own the wineries, as well as visit the cellars and vineyards, and gain unique insight. Once having gained an understanding of the unique characteristics of Chianti terroir and more specifically the site-specific secrets of the vineyards that are part of you temporary home, you can enjoy the wines right at the place where they were made – an unforgettable experience! You will probably want to take a few bottles back with you and you are likely to find the best prices direct from the cellar door. If you come at harvest time you can even get your hands dirty and pick grapes that will end up as wine.
Chianti winery hotels come in many shapes and forms, from charmingly rustic to the height of luxury. Many hotels have their own swimming pools right next to the vines, making for a magical experience for wine lovers. A few of the finest hotels have full spa and wellness facilities. A few offer vinotherapy – the ultimate in wine-related relaxation and recreation – which involves the likes of facials and body soaks in antioxidant- and nutrient-rich wine- and grape-based treatments.
Some hotels are part of the burgeoning ariturismo (agritourism) movement. Agriturismo can include hotels, B&B, apartments or even whole farm buildings. Some agriturismo are not at all rustic but are actually rather sophisticated. Agriturismo caters to a wide range of budgets and each place has its own charm. This is a great option for those looking to get up close and personal to interact with the locals and learn what it’s like to actually run and work in a winery. The host families will also be happy to show you how to make that delicious dish that dazzled you during your stay. They will also be extremely helpful in booking holiday activities and will be on hand to help you to get the best out of your time in Chianti.
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