A little less than an hour south of Florence you will find one of the oldest vino estates in Tuscany- Vignamaggio! Vignamaggio is over 600 years old and a must see while in the Chianti Classico Region of Tuscany. Known for its delicious wines and olive oils- Vignamaggio is also famous for THE Monna Lisa painting! You can read more into the history here– however it is believed the famous Leonardo Divinci painting was of Monna Lisa Gherardini (1479-1542). The Gherardini family founded and built the estate that lies on Vignamaggio! So much beauty and history here!
The ‘Tuscan Countryside’ leg of our trip was the only true relaxing time we had on our Italian Vacation. After a jammed packed 3 days in Florence- we were ready for it to say the least! We picked up our rental car as early as possible from Florence (we went with Hertz!) and headed directly for the Vignamaggio Estate. You can see the Italy posts I have shared thus far here and here! (not in order)
Soon after leaving Florence we entered the countryside and had amazing views a-plenty. I am a sucker for the slender Italian cypress tree! Before we knew it we had arrived to the estate, parked at the bottom of the hill and walked up the hill to the tasting room.
As we walked up the hill, I could hardly contain my excitement- the sun was shining, birds were chirping (not to sound cheesy) and it was free from the noise pollution we had been experiencing in cities (Venice + Florence) thus far.
We originally had planned to stay for only the ‘Deguexpress’ experience which includes 2 glasses of wine and a snack outside on their patio but once we arrived we HAD to see the rest of the estate and decided to go on a tour.
The next tour did not leave for another hour or so which just meant more relaxing for us. While we were waiting for the tour- we decided to have our glasses of wine and snacks beforehand. Out came a delicious meat and cheese board with fresh bread, Vignamaggio olive oil (the best!) and a side of fruit preserves. We could not wait to dig in. We started off with the Chianti Classico “Gherardino then ended with the Riserva “Castello di Monnalisa”. Everything was delicious and we actually ended up ordering more! It was the perfect light Tuscan lunch.
Finally it was time for the tour to begin. Cristina was our guide on the hour tour and was probably the most passionate (and knowledgable) person I have ever seen when it comes to wine making. We started off learning about the history of the Chianti region, how the Vignamaggio estate came to be, along with some pretty cool Italian history facts. For instance we learned that in the 1300’s Florentine Guelphs divided into two parties- the black and white. The black Guelphs took over the city of Florence and banished the White Guelph families. (One being the Gherardini Family whom settled and built a castle on Vignamaggio estate. We learned that you could identify if a castle was white or black based on the shapes at the top of the towers. The white castles have the flat tops and the black family castles had points. Every time we saw a castle on our trip around Tuscany we would love to identify which side the castle belonged to!
Next it was time to see the fermentation rooms and (my favorite) the old wine cellars. The wine cellars were something out of movie- beautiful brick walls and rounded ceilings. Vignamaggio still uses old antique wine bubblers to help determine when the wine has aged just right.
Our tour ended with a tour of the Italian Gardens which were absolutely beautiful. We saw beautiful views of the rolling nearby hills. Vignamaggio is 200 hectares (2,000 acres!) and prides itself with organic farming of its products. The garden area is where wedding and events take place and man is it a sight to be seen. Perfectly manicured bushes, beautiful flowers and stone walkways. There was a chandelier hanging from a tree nearby and I could not help but imagine Brides and Grooms having their first dance under it.
Many of the other folks on the tour headed to the villa (the area of the restaurant used to be the stables!) for a special lunch and wine pairing. We were jealous and wished we would have stayed! There is so much to do at Vignamaggio. You can stay at the estate, go horseback riding, relax with their spa and wellness services and take cooking/wine courses. It is the perfect place for a full fledged vacation under the Tuscan Sun!
If you find yourself in the area- I highly recommend giving Vignamaggio a visit!
*** This post was done in collaboration with Vignamaggio Estate. As always all ideas and opinions are my own.