‘Architect in the Cellar’: Visits & Tastings at Designer Tuscan Wineries

‘Architect in the Cellar’ offers visits and tastings in Tuscan wineries also designed by famous architects

Tuscany’s wine country hosts a special weekend distinctively called Architect in the Cellar (Architetto in Cantina) on October 15 and 16.  The event aims to connect landscape, art and wine culture and takes place in 13 Tuscan wineries.  Visitors can enjoy guided tours of the various wineries, some of them conducted by the actual architects who designed the buildings.

This year’s events focus on sustainability, honoring renowned architects Renzo Piano, Mario Botta and Tobia Scarpa with the featured wine estates designed to be integrated into the natural landscape, limiting their impact on the environment.  Great care was given to the creation of the various buildings, incorporating “green” practices by reducing energy use and waste, which in turn contributes to the balance of the wines.  From the use of natural materials to recovering rainwater, eco-sustainability can be seen in every step of the production of wine.

Toscana Wine Architecture, a network of 14 wineries, takes pride in the “wine temples” all integrated in the surrounding landscape and using eco-friendly technologies in construction and production.  Established in 2017, the consortium organizes design wineries to welcome visitors into their cellars in order to observe firsthand how the design and production of wine can positively affect the landscape.  Some of the wineries involved in the initiative are Antinori nel Chianti Classico, Cantina del Montalcino, Rocca di Frassinello and Tenuta Ammiraglia-Frescobaldi.

For the upcoming weekend of October 15-16, here are a few tempting suggestions.  In the heart of Chianti country Antinori’s stunning hillside winery in Bargino Val di Pesa, designed by Florentine Archea Associates, features rooftop vineyards on several different levels.  The Antinori family invites visitors both Saturday and Sunday with two-hour tours offered at 12:30 and 3:00. (€45 PP)

Il Borro near Arezzo dates to the 13th century with a rich history of noble families and traditions.  The Ferragamo family acquired the medieval hamlet in the 1990s and began to restore the ancient structures emphasizing its history and surrounding nature.  Today Il Borro is a full-service resort with winery, organic gardens, accommodations and a wide range of activities.  The family takes pride in the zero-carbon dioxide emissions operation and offers two-hour tours in Italian at 3 pm and English at 5 pm on Saturday October 15. (€55 PP)

Cantina di Montalcino, designed with a roof mimicking the rolling Sienese hills and great windows overlooking the vineyards, takes pride in its famous Brunello wine.  On Saturday at 11 am a one-hour free tour is being offered.

Cantina Salcheto, with spectacular views up to the hilltop town of Montepulciano, boasts organic Sangiovese among its other award-winning wines.  Designed by owner Michele Manelli, the cantina with vertical garden, solar skylights and a biomass power plant contribute to sustainability.  The winery also offers accommodations with wood heated hot tubs and pool.  On Saturday at 11 am the cantina invites visitors to a free tour with wine purchase available by the glass.

Wine lovers wishing to experience a mini getaway to the idyllic island of Elba and learn more about the winemaking process might want to reserve at the Fattoria delle Ripalte in Capoliveri in the SE part of the island.  The Fattoria has organized an entire afternoon on Sunday beginning with a guided tour of the vineyards at noon followed by a visit to the cantina with wine tasting on the panoramic terrace with sweeping views over sea and vineyards.  Lunch follows and later participants join a visit to the Ginevro mine, known for the extraction of magnetite.  Culminating at 6 pm, the afternoon with tour in Italian, English and German costs €80 per person.  The winery also offers accommodation for €50 per person per night.

These are just a sample of the Architect in the Cellar offerings for the weekend of October 15-16.  All tours require reservations.  (rita kungel)

For complete information (participating wineries, times, prices and info to reserve) see the website: https://www.winearchitecture.it/en