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Top 5 Italian wineries to check off your bucket list

Apr 09, 2021 by Erin Arbaugh

From Milan to Mount Vesuvius, Italian vineyards dot every hill, valley, and plain. Grapes are nearly a national treasure here, and over 310,000 wineries celebrate their vibrant, varied flavor. With all that selection, you might be wondering, “Where are the best wineries in Italy?” That’s why we turned to experts from our Italy tours for the top five can’t-miss spots. Let’s break it down by wine region.

a map of Italy's wine regions

Veneto wine region

1. Possessioni di Serego Alighieri

Just a few miles from downtown Verona, you’ll find Possessioni di Serego Alighieri, a winery with noble heritage. For 21 generations, descendants of the poet Dante Alighieri have lived and worked in the Possessioni, making it a true mecca for viticulture in the Valpolicella region. To this day, the family makes their wine using traditional techniques from the 1500s: drying grapes on lofted bamboo racks and maturing their award-winning wines in cherry wood barrels for at least 100 days. You’ll find a smooth roundness in every sip.

What to try when you go:

When you visit northern Italy on tour, we recommend a taste (or a few glasses…) of the Vaio Armaron—Wine Spectator’s #8 best wine in the world for 2015. The grapes for this balanced red come right from the rolling hills surrounding the estate, and the taste is just as elegant as the property itself. You’re in for a perfect symphony of plum sauce, black cherry, and cured tobacco. Hang in there for the smoky finish.

Looking to beef up your wine lingo before your trip to our favorite vineyards in Italy? Get the inside scoop on everything you need to know about Italian wine from our staffers.

a medieval Italian castle, Castle of the Marquis Falletti, located on the Marchesi di Barolo winery

Piedmont wine region

2. Marchesi di Barolo

Marchesi di Barolo could easily be called one of the best wineries in Italy. Situated on 430 stunning acres in Barolo, the cellars overlook the Castle of the Marquis Falletti. He and his wife began this Italian winery over 200 years ago and, when they died, they created a foundation called “Opera Pia Barolo” to help the city’s underserved communities. To this day, wine sales from Marchesi di Barolo still support the foundation.

What to try when you go:

The Barolo Chinato is the perfect dessert wine after a rich Italian dinner. The winery adds herbs and spices to Barolo DOCG to create a warm, aromatic flavor. It’s even better served over ice with seltzer water.

Visit the Piedmont wine region on our Food & Wine Tour of northern Italy.

a women holding a bushel of grapes at golden hour

Tuscany wine region

3. Casato Prime Donne

In Italy, winemaking very much remains a man’s business, but the women of Casato Prime Donne are out to change that. They run the first all-female Italian winery, not to mention one of the best wineries in Italy. The vineyard sits just below Montalcino, a postcard-perfect town perched on a sun-drenched hill—the ideal spot to create the area’s famous Brunello di Montalcino wines. Casato Prime Donne ages their Brunello in artisan-made, French oak casks for at least two years, and ages their wine in bottles to capture the fragrant fullness. Every glass is a knockout.

What to try when you go:

Ask for a taste of the IOsonoDONATELLA when you take our tour of Tuscany and Umbria. Casato Prime Donne ages this masterpiece Brunello for nearly three years in oak barrels with red ceramic hearts on them—that way the staff knows not to mix it with any other barrels. Before it makes it to your bottle, this wine takes a six-month nap in an egg-shaped vat to oxygenate and pick up its distinct, velvety mouth feel. Sommeliers say the complex, fresh taste makes it the best Brunello Casato Prime Donne has ever made. And that’s saying something.

What our travelers say:

“The wine tasting menus and location was incredible—a wonderful experience suitable for the novice to expert. To get this close and personal with the owners and representatives of the area’s best vineyard is a wonderful opportunity and they are thrilled to have you. It’s a wonderful experience.” —Robin

an overflowing basket of grapes as workers continue to harvest in the background

Campania wine region

4. La Guardiense

Wander into Beneveto, and you’ll find La Guardiense, one of Italy’s largest farming cooperatives. Together, nearly 1,000 farmers grow their own Falanghina and Aglianico grapes on 3,700 acres of rich, rolling hills. Every farmer’s harvest finds its way to the town of Guardia Sanframondi, where the La Guardiense winery works its magic. Ricardo Cotarella, one of the best-known vintners in Italy, shepherds every grape to the bottle as sustainably as possible. The entire winemaking process runs on their innovative solar energy system.

What to try when you go:

If they have it on hand, see if you can get a sip of the 2011 Aglianico from their Janare brand. This award-winning red is full and intense, but it also showcases sweeter vanilla notes from aging in wood. If you’re more of a white wine aficionado, their Laureto might be for you. This Falanghina wine is fruity with honey notes and an almond finish.

What our travelers say:

“The cooperative winery was outstanding. The wine was very good and the food was excellent. Thoroughly enjoyed it all… so delicious!” —Jeanne

Visit this vineyard on our Food & Wine tour through southern Italy.

a waitress pouring a glass of white wine for a traveler

Irpinia wine region

5. Feudi di San Gregorio

Some say the renowned Feudi di San Gregorio winery is in Campania, one of the most beloved Italian wine regions. But if you ask the vintners, it’s far more complex than that. For them, their vineyards flourish in their own specific region called Irpinia, with its own microclimate and distinctly volcanic soil. (Thanks, Mount Vesuvius!) It’s no wonder then, that the wines here are in a category all their own. Since its opening in 1986, Feudi di San Gregorio has earned worldwide acclaim—as well as over 220 90+ reviews. Certainly nothing to sniff at.

What to try when you go:

Don’t pass up the 2010 Piano Taurasi Riserva on one of our Food & Wine Tours. It’s made from the Aglianico grape this Italian wine region is known for, and it spends up to 24 months in French barriques. You’ll get a clear taste of dark fruit, clove, and blackberry. We’d even recommend buying a bottle and socking it away for a major anniversary or gift—sommeliers say it will develop even more personality over the next 20 years. It makes an unforgettable souvenir from your tour of the top wineries in Italy.

What our travelers say:

“It was interesting to learn about their different style of wine making and the focus on Southern Italian, Greek-derived varietals not well known in America (loved Aglianico).” —Dennis

Read more about different wines to try in different Italian wine regions.

Have you ever visited any of the top wineries in Italy? Or have a favorite out of all the Italian wine regions? Tell us about it on our Facebook page!

Explore all of our Food & Wine Tours. Start in Italy, and sip your way around the world! Go now >

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About the author | Erin Arbaugh
Erin grew up in New York’s winding woods, where she discovered a love for a lot of adventure, a little danger, and plenty of bug spray. Since then, she’s backpacked across Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano in a white out snowstorm, gone waterfall jumping in Costa Rica, and escaped the Patagonian wilderness just before COVID slammed the borders shut. Erin’s never met a food she won’t try once (lookin’ at you, fermented shark) or a wallet she can’t lose at least twice on any trip. Luckily, just like every trip's memories, it always comes right back.

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