Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A visit to a winery - Castello Verrazzano

While we were in Florence we wanted see some of Tuscan countryside and also to visit a winery, so we were delighted when our waiter one lunch time gave us a brochure for a winery and informed us that in fact we could be picked up and taken there. the winery was Castello Verrazzano.

It turned out this was the same family that the bridge in New York is named after, in fact they contended that it should not have been called the Hudson River it should have been called The Verrazzano river as apparently he was there first.

Castello Verrazzano
We phoned the number provided in the brochure to request the executive wine tour, which included picking us up, tour of the winery lunch with tasting and bringing us back to Florence. Unfortunately we wanted to go on Monday and they did not do the executive tour that day, but the woman we were talking to said that she came right by our apartment every day on her way to work and she would pick us up and take us there, and then drop us off at the bus to get back.  We jumped at the chance and for 28.00 euros each we would get a "light lunch" and the tour and tasting.

Gillian (an expat who had married an Italian) picked us up as arranged at 9:30 and drove us through the beautiful countryside to the winery.  She was very informative and told us a little about the winery and a lot about living in Italy.

The winery itself is beautiful, built on a hill top with several levels of buildings including the family home. We were a little early for the tour, so we hung out taking hundreds of pictures of the beautiful scenery.

Part of the gardens

At 11:00 the tour started we were along with a group of students from Boston, 4 fellow Canadians and two newly wed couples.  The tour was interesting and our guide obviously very passionate about the wine making as well as the balsamic vinegar which they also made.

We went through the process of making the wine walking through where the barrels as well as the bottles were kept.  These were essentially caves in the side of the hill and some of them even had hams hanging in with the wine storage.

After the tour was finished we were shown into a dining room where we sat at long tables, so we were able to chat with other people on the tour.  When they say tasting, it is not like in North America where you get a couple of tablespoons, here you got a full glass of each of 4 wines as well a bottle of the cheaper one left on the table!

unable to believe our good fortune
After they had poured all the wine they then brought our "light lunch" we each received a platter of cold meats and cheese along with a bread with the house pressed olive oil, I thought at first there was one to share between us, but no we each got one.

Light lunch Italian style
So we proceeded to make our way through all the wines and this large plate of essentially pork products including the infamous lardo.  We also received a spoonful of their house made balsamic vinegar which was absolutely wonderful. But they were not finished with us yet, next we received a glass of Vin Santo and a basket of almond biscotti for dipping.

Jacky and Connie demonstrating the correct way to dip your biscotti
And then as if we had not had enough to drink the poured us each a shot of their grappa. Sad to say on this day I could not taste a single thing, though of course this did not stop me from drinking the wine, the Vin Santo or the grappa, or indeed from eating large volumes of pork product.

All in all a great day out, in fact probably my favourite day of the trip to Italy, the only thing that would have made it better was if I had been able to taste!

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