Cantine Aperte: Italy’s Country-Wide Wine Festival


Cantine Aperte is an annual wine-festival that takes place each May throughout all of Italy. From the Veneto region in the north, to Sicily’s Marsala, wineries open their doors to visitors and offer samples of their amazing wines. The one-time cost of entry is usually 5 euro; the price includes a wine glass that you can take home.

Italy produces more wine than any other country in the world, and Cantine Aperte is a way for winemakers to show off their creations. Winemakers fill the countryside with signs directing wine lovers to their wineries, making it a great day to rent a car and get out into the beautiful countryside.

Three of my favorite locations to indulge in Cantine Aperte are Tuscany’s Chianti, Piedmont’s Barolo, and Puglia’s Salice Salentino, but the best place to taste is usually right where you are, since wine is produced in every region of Italy. Each winery becomes a mini-festival with locals and visitors sharing wine, having picnics, and listening to live music. Here is the inside scoop on three of my favorite places to experience Cantine Aperte.

Cantine Aperte in Chianti

red-grapesI like Chianti because it is a short drive from the beautiful city of Florence. In less than 45 minutes you are surrounded by dramatic, south-facing slopes that are planted with Sangiovese, the grape used to make the DOCG, Chianti. Not all winemakers are interested in making traditional DOCG Chianti wines however, and the infamous Super-Tuscans are also found around every corner. Super-Tuscan wines are not given the government classification of DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), because they are not made in the same manner as Chianti wines. Between innovative Super Tuscans and traditional Chianti, Tuscany is a great place to experience Italian wine. That the region is home to some of the most beautiful vineyards in the world is just icing on the cake.

Cantine Aperte in Piedmont

Home to the austere Barolo wines made from the noble Nebbiolo grape, the wine-growing region in Piedmont is located around the town of Alba. More off the beaten track than Chianti, the region features the same rolling hills covered with grapevines. The wineries are plentiful and the wines are extremely complex.
To experience Cantine Aperte to its fullest, it is best to stay in the cities of either Alba or Asti; both are located in the heart of wine-country and provide car rental services. Make sure to book your hotel well in advance, since this event is very popular in the region.

Cantine Aperte in Salice Salentino

Salice Salentino is one of the best-known wine-producing regions in Italy’s Puglia region. Famed for it’s friendly red wines made from Negroamaro and Primitivo grapes (Primitivo is genetically identical to Zinfandel), the region is home to many wineries. Puglia vies with Sicily for being the number one grape-producing region in Italy.
To experience the region it is best to rent a car in either Lecce or Taranto, two major cities on either side of Salice Salentino. Wineries open their doors at 10am. Around noon, look for wineries that feature traditional meals of orecchiette pasta or grilled meats. Most wineries close between 6 and 7 in the evening, however, there are usually a few that stay open until 9. These often feature food and live music.

Written by Mattie Bamman for

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