On the last Sunday in May, Italy’s wineries fling open their doors and invite visitors to sample their creations. Cantine Aperte, which translates to Open Wineries, is best described as a countrywide wine party: It allows travelers to visit nearly every winery in Italy without making a reservation in advance. Just rent a car and hit the road. (Though, I do recommend reserving a car well in advance.)
The event usually costs 5 euro, which includes all tastings as well as a wine glass. The popularity of the event adds to the excitement, as groups of wine lovers mill around winery grounds beneath the warm sun. Further, lunches and expertly created food pairings are offered. All this makes the last Sunday in May one of the best days of the year to be in Italy.
I attended Cantine Aperte for the first time last year in the Puglia region. Each winery that I visited offered its entire range of wines for tasting. Winery tours, live music, and snacks were also offered. Complete lunches were supplied by many wineries and cost around 10 euro. I found that you could easily sign up for lunch on location at most wineries; however, some required reservations.
One great thing about Cantine Aperte is that no matter which area of Italy you are in, there is almost certainly something going on.
The Movement of Tourism’s website features a lot of information; however, it is in Italian. It includes a list of participating wineries organized by region. It can be somewhat difficult to locate wineries; I suggest choosing a few in a small area and then making a Google map that locates the wineries you will be visiting. Alternatively, visit a local tourist office in advance and ask for a Cantine Aperte map. They are often available and feature participating winery locations. The maps are also offered at participating wineries.
Fortunately, once you’re on the road you’ll find that the good folks at the tourism boards and the wineries have filled the countryside with signs directing you to their wineries. Once you’ve found one winery, you won’t have difficulty finding others. Just ask for directions after the tasting.
Each region has its own unique grape varieties, and Cantine Aperte is a great way to experience new wines. Italy is home to over 2,000 varieties of grapes. I will be wine-tasting in the Umbria region around Perugia this year. The region is known for the Torgiano Rosso Riserva DOCG, made primarily with Sangiovese and Canaiolo Nero grapes; and Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG, made with the Sagrantino grape. The region also excels in white wine. I look forward to tasting whites made with the Grechetto grape in the Orvieto region. If you’re going to be in the area, write me a comment. Maybe we’ll meet on the wine trail!
Written by Mattie Bamman for EuropeUpClose.com