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Wine tasting in Tuscan castles
Wine tasting in Tuscan castles
Tuscany is full of architectural treats, like its medieval castles which are often surrounded by lush vineyards. These majestic buildings offer the perfect opportunity to enjoy Tuscany wine tasting in historical surroundings and many are home to Tuscan restaurants too. Here are some of the best we know:


Castello di Banfi 
This medieval castle is situated above mountainous forests and surrounded by a 7,100 acre vinicultural estate with a variety of vineyards. Situated near Montalcino, it holds the DOCG of the prestigious Brunello di Montalcino. It also has two restaurants that offer local cuisine in a historic stone building with patios for dining outdoors that have breathtaking views of the countryside. www.castellobanfi.com


Castello di Brolio
This castle dates back to the 10th century and holds one of the main vineyards that lie within the Chianti Classico area. In fact, its creator Baron Bettino Ricasoli produced the first formulation of the grape mix of Chianti Classico in the second half of the 19th century. Here, you can enjoy a guided tour of the castle, an introduction to their finest wines with a visit to the ‘tasting room’ and traditional Tuscan food at the castle’s own restaurant. www.ricasoli.it


Castello di Meleto
Another great castle in Tuscany, this 13th century hill-top building lies close to the village of Gaiole and is again owned by the Ricasoli family. Surrounded by 180 acres of lands that cultivate the grapevine, its main grapes include the Sangiovese which is mainly used for the production of Chianti Classico, as well as Merlot, Cabernet, Syrah and other traditional wines. Other than guided tours and wine tastings, you can enjoy lunch or dinner at its own restaurant Fornace di Meleto. http://www.castellomeleto.it


Dievole
This castle is well known for its alliance between tradition and scientific technical innovation. Although its viticulture dates back to the 11th century, its new facilities include modern techniques of wine-growing management. Wine tasting and tours are both available. www.dievole.it


Castello del Trebbio
This castle is a producer of top wines like Chianti Rufina Riserva, which like Brunello di Montalcino, consists of 100% Sangiovese grapes. The castle farm, with a total surface of 800 acres, is situated in two prestigious Chianti areas: the Chianti Colli Fiorentini and the Chianti Rufina. Other than guided tours and wine tastings, you can also dine at its restaurant La Sosta del Gusto. www.vinoturismo.it


Castello di Gabbiano
This is one of the oldest wine estates in Chianti. Situated between Florence and Siena, it lies within the heart of the Chianti Classico region. Its renovated but ancient wine-aging cellar is situated under the 12th century castle and keeps wines for up to 24 months in large French oak casks and barrels, until they mature to the required level. Its restaurant Ristorante il Cavalliere is situated on a hill top overlooking the vineyards and offers traditional Tuscan cuisine combined with fresh, high quality local produce. www.castellogabbiano.it


Tenuta SanVito
Also set in the verdant hills of the Chianti Classico area and approx 15km from Florence, this castle has 126 hectares which consist of vineyards, olive groves and magnificent forests. Its wines include various Chianti DOCGs, together with a range of the more modern Chardonnays, all made from organically grown grapes. www.san-vito.com


Castello di Verrazzano
Based in a 12th century castle and Renaissance gardens is another family run estate, also close to Florence. With 43 hectares of vineyards, this place is internationally recognised. Other than guided tours and wine tastings you can also try the ‘Cantinetta’: a wine bar and bakery run by the owners of Castello di Verrazzano which offers all wine produced from the castle, as well as white wines, locally produced extra virgin olive oil and freshly baked breads. High quality, traditional yet simple dishes are also available, together with pastries, rustic biscuits and traditional coffee blends. www.verrazzano.com


Badia a Coltibuono
This is another area dedicated to organic agriculture. Originally cultivated by monks a thousand years ago, its castle and Renaissance gardens lie within the Chianti Classico region - close to both Florence and Siena - and produce the classic DOC/DOCGs. You can also eat at its elegant yet contemporary restaurant, which boasts a warm welcoming atmosphere and is situated in original refurbished stables and surrounding gardens. www.coltibuono.com


Antica Fattoria Paterno
This local farm is dominated by a typical XVII century tower that lies on the top of a hill whose slopes contain both vineyards and olive groves. Its vineyards produce the classical Sangiovese for the production of Chianti, together with Trebbiano for the production of Vin Santo. www.fattoriapaterno.it


Castello Romitorio
This massive 12th century hilltop fortress lies in Montalcino and after buying the estate in 1984, its owner, artist Sandro Chia, spent several years transforming its lands into vineyards and olive groves to produce exquisite Tuscan wines, grappa and olive oil. This fusion of art and agriculture sees the production of the famous Brunello di Montalcino, together with Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and other wines. www.castelloromitorio.com


Castello di Oliveto
An ancient, well-preserved manor of the 15th century lies at the heart of the Florentine hills and produces various Tuscan wines. Other than offering guided tours of the castle and ancient wine cellar, it also offers wine tastings accompanied by typical Tuscan dishes. www.castellooliveto.it


Fattoria Casa Sola
This farm lies close to the town of Barberino Val d’Elsa, approx 30km from Florence. It extends for a total of 120 acres, 26 of which are used for vineyards and 40 for olive groves. The remaining grounds are fields and woods where much of the grape maturation occurs, leading to the production of wines which range from Chianti Classico to Vin Santo. Other than offering wine tours amongst the vineyards and wine tasting in their cellar, it also provides cooking courses. www.fattoriacasasola.com


Coli 
Coli is owned by the Coli brothers. Its traditional estates with Italian cypresses lie between the Coli vineyards and surrounding forests. The nearest town is Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, approx 14km from Florence. Coli SpA is now one of the most competitive producers thanks to the expansion of the Coli Wine Cellar, which uses more modern methods to produce approximately 12 million bottles of wine per year, while keeping a high level of quality. www.coli.it


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