We surprised our fellow travelers (and ourselves) by being the first to the cafe this morning for breakfast.  I guess there’s no middle ground with us? It’s all or nothing?! The 2nd floor of the building in this picture has been home since Monday.

Our first stop of the day was Banfi Vineyards outside of Montelcino. A bit of a delay on our way due to a traffic accident.  Curvy, hilly roads and large trucks and vans coming in opposite directions can make for a very tight squeeze. But we arrived safe and sound and not much later than our reservation time.  We started with champagne in the tasting room while we waited for our table to be ready. Fantastic champagne – especially if my other half says he enjoys it, because bubbly is not his thing at all.  It was truly a million tiny bubbles dancing on your tongue with a dry, yet not too dry, finish.  Our favorite wine app confirmed we can get it in the US.  A good start to the day!
We were seated for our tasting and served a selection of cheeses and salami. We opted for the bottle tasting rather than the flight tastings. One bottle would give each of us enough of a taste, and we could revisit it until the bottle was empty.  Much more efficient and less expensive than the flight of 3 seletions. We learned a lot about the brunello varietal, the wine produced in this area. 100% sangiovese grapes, but the fermenting and aging process are what make it a brunello. (Lots of time macerating with the skins, and an extended aging period both in large barrels and in the bottle.)

 Our tasting was followed by a self-guided tour of the glass museum. The have containers and decanters dating back to BC times up to modern day.  Even a Picasso designed decanter! Very interesting to see how glass has evolved over the centuries.  As we were leaving we met a couple who live not far from us in the States and who had a connection to the other couples in our group. Quite a serendipitous meeting, and we have exchanged contact info so we can get together when we return home.

Stunning views and glorious gardens around the tasting room…

Our next stop was La Fornace Vineyards. We thought initially we had pulled into the wrong place as it was clearly a family home, not an obvious tasting room.  Favio, the winemaker, vineyard manager, tasting room manager and sales manager (a/k/a owner) came to meet us after his mother had shown us to the back of the house overlooking the vineyards. While we waited we got to play with Peppa, their 3 month old Jack Russell Terrier. Highly entertaining! We learned a great deal from Favio, and it was easy to see his passion. His grandfather started the winery in the mid 80’s, and then his father ran it, now him. A wonderful time, and one of the best winery visits we’ve experienced in quite some time.

We got to meet the young boy in the above photo – Flavio’s father. 

Next stop, Montalcino. Most of the shops seemed to be closing early, but we did find a trinket or two (small bottles of Vin Santo count as trinkets, right?!?) Dinner was at a local restaurant, and we each had a primi and secondi dish. Pasta e fagioli, ribolatto, pici with duck ragu, ravioli, carpacio and a few salads rounded out the meal.  Of course a bottle of brunello wine to accompany our repast.

An early night tonight as we will be on the road early tomorrow for a stop in Pedroia at the terra cotta factory/store then on to Sienna for exploring and shopping. Rome on Friday!