Originally Posted by Gusto Wine Tours on May 22, 2011
We originally thought when we first started Gusto Wine Tours that the last Sunday in May would be the busiest day of the year! Cantine Aperte (Open Wineries) is THE day to get out and try the local wines. We were also under the impression that only Umbria did this open day.
We were wrong on both counts. The world and his wife descend on the cantine on this day making it nigh on impossible to contemplate organising an intimate personal wine tour! We now know, of course, that this special day is for every region of Italy. A chance for the public to visit the cantine of their region, or even pop across the borders and try something different!
I’d say that 95% of the public that visits the cantine are locals interspersed with very lucky, and, usually, slightly bemused tourists who probably more by luck than judgement find themselves in the right place at the right time!
If you want a true taste of the local life here, you don’t get a better chance than to visit one or more of the cantine on the last Sunday of May each year.
Each participating cantina opens their doors at around 10 am on Sunday morning and most of them work hard to create a festival feel to the day. Some will have live music, all will have wine-tasting and each cantina will offer something a little different in the way of food.
Here’s what you do:
Designate a driver (!)
Choose your first cantina.
Drive to the cantina and find somewhere to park – the earlier it is, the easier it is to find parking!
Before you start trying the wines you will need a glass!
There will be a little booth somewhere close by and you buy a souvenir glass with a hands-free pouch that you can hang around your neck with the glass in it, leaving you free to reach out for any food going!
You only have to buy one glass and pouch for the day, no matter how many cantine you clock up! However, we have discovered that it’s the polite thing to do to buy a glass at each cantina. Included in the price of the glass and pouch is the everyday wine and usually a snack.
These are yours to keep for as long as you don’t break them! (We have an embarrassing amount of them at home!)
Wine, wine, wine!
Each cantina has slightly different ‘rules’ but in general, the table wine will be freely available and you can help yourself to these – both rosso and bianco.
Some cantine will have a ticket system where you will pay for a batch of tickets that correspond with a tasting of their more expensive wines. Some places don’t charge, some do.
And then there’s the food!
The food is varied and always good! Probably not the BEST day for vegetarians with the Umbrian speciality Porchetta (slow roasted boned pork) in crisp rolls and the incomparable sausages on the grill, or if you go to Dionigi, between Bevagna and Cannara, you will find, among all the above, roasted snails – a local speciality.
Some cantine offer walks through their vines, with little stops on the way to refresh yourselves with a little wine and grub!
Fun in the vines
Most places will have musical entertainment anything from a live hoedown to jazz in the garden!
This is an Italy-wide party for the whole family!
Some people organise minibuses for themselves & friends so there will be no problem with drinking and driving.
Some of our favourite places for Cantine Aperte
Tenuta San Rocco nr Todi – A pretty cantina within sight of Todi – Great food, check out their Viognier wine – delicious! (They have rooms there too!)
Cantina Dionigi, Nr Cantalupo, Bevagna – Music in the garden, great food, amazing wines and the table wines served in little barrels – the unbelievable views across the valley to Assisi and Mount Subasio.
Not so easy to park, but we found a spot ..big enough for our friends large motor-home – so not impossible!
Fattoria Colleallodole Milziade Antano – Fabulous winery on the Strada del Sagrantino near Bevagna. Excellent wines, great music, good food (if you can get a look-in!). A must try! Big party atmosphere – it gets busy very quickly! A little warning: The ‘road’ leading to the winery is extremely potholed and rough – not good for low-slung cars!
And some more!
We always aim to visit Terre Margaritelli in the Torgiano area of Umbria. With horse riding through the vines, a big barbecue, live music, oodles of wine, and fabulous views – we love it!
You could also check out Antonelli and their famed jazz in the garden and then walk next door to Fongoli, in our opinion, the prettiest cantina we’ve ever seen and the Cantine Aperte experience is wonderful, the whole family joining in to make it a special event!
Most of the cantine will be open until around 7 pm, plenty of time to try the wines of this area and have a wonderful, fun-filled day – and with any luck, the sun will keep shining on us!
Just a note, we’ve been visiting Cantine Aperte on the last Sunday of May for a few years now and every year some things change – so what we experienced in past years may not be the case this year!