Tips for your visit to Prosecco Road: #4 Savor the food

Tips for your visit to Prosecco Road: #4 Savor the food

When we were in Italy this summer tasting the bubbly wines along Prosecco Road, it was easy to be laser focused on the next wine tasting. However, to go to the Prosecco region and only concentrate on the wine would be a shame. That’s because Valdobbiadene had some of the most delectable food we had in all of Italy.

Pizza in Prosecco Region

Steve holds up his pizza so Ann could take a picture. Also, he wasn’t going to let anyone else anywhere near it.

It definitely had the best pizza we tried. Deb and Massi, our local guide and driver, took us to a charming pizza place with outdoor seating and colorful flower pots that surrounded an outdoor patio.

Deb at pizza restaurant

Deb said she’d point the way to the best pizza we’d ever had. And she did.

The four us sat down and took a look at the menu. I asked if we should order a couple pizzas to share and Deb insisted that we would each want our own. As usual, she was right.

Pizza in Prosecco region

Ann’s pizza had prosciutto and peppers on a crust made from artisan grains.

I ordered this prosciutto pizza with peppers and we paid just a tiny bit extra to have the crust made with artisan grains. Worth. Every. Euro. Cent. (And the cost was still even less than what we’d pay for a Domino’s pizza in the U.S). It was the most incredible pizza I’d ever tasted; not the thick and greasy stuff with processed meats and cheeses like you sometimes get in other countries. I’m talking a thin, wood fired crust with a sauce so fresh you’d think the tomatoes were picked from the garden just minutes before (they probably were), topped with fresh meat, vegetables, and flavorful, gooey cheese.

Yes, in Italy pizza is not just a dish; it is an experience of flavors and tradition.

Pizza crust appetizer

For an appetizer we had a pizza crust that had been drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with herbs.

We shared an appetizer pizza crust drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with fresh Italian herbs while sipping glasses of cold beer and wine. We sat, enthralled by the view of the sun setting over hills covered in grape vines. THIS was the Italian experience I’d been dreaming about for years and it was everything I’d hoped it would be.

Prosecco region beautiful view

It was great to have a private driver who would stop when we wanted to take a picture. And who wouldn’t wan this picture?

For our second night in the Prosecco region, Deb and Massi wanted to take us to a different kind of Italian restaurant, one that was more formal, a bit more gourmet, but just as delicious. After a leisurely drive along a mountain road littered with breathtaking views and passing through several quaint Italian villages, we stopped at a fine dining restaurant late in the evening where we were seated at a white linen covered table on an open-air balcony with an incredible view.

Prosciutto and figs

Ann’s appetizer of prosciutto and fresh figs.

The appetizer course was my favorite. I had prosciutto with fresh figs while Steve ordered a local favorite, a warm cheese fondue with crispy Italian bread. It was sprinkled with edible flowers and he savored every bite.

Cheese fondue

This creamy cheese fondue was beyond delicious. Steve wanted to lick the glass clean, but Ann said no.

In between courses, we watched the sun set over the hills of Valdobiadene and listened to the chiming bell of a nearby church. It was another quintessential Italian experience.

Restaurant view in the Prosecco region

Our view from the restaurant.

For the main course, I had an apple risotto with four beautifully crafted tortellini. The plate was sprinkled with coarse, pink peppercorns and looked too good to eat. Of course I ate it anyway, taking my time to savor every bite.

Risotto and tortellini

Apple risotto and tortellini seasoned with ground red peppercorns. Yum!

For dessert, I opted for one of my favorites, a traditional tiramisu and it was one of the best I had in Italy.

Tiramisu

Ann had this beautiful tiramisu for dessert.

While we came to Prosecco Road for the wine, we were surprised to be equally impressed with the food and restaurants. Not only were the dishes beyond compare, you can’t beat the views, the relaxing atmosphere, and the hospitality of the people who live there. We can’t wait to go back.


Other tips for your visit to Prosecco Road:

#1 Hire a driver and local guide

#2 Stay at an agriturismo

#3 Get to know your wine


Our tour of the Prosecco Road and transportation were complimentary from Italy Unfiltered and Massi the Driver. The opinions expressed are our own.

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Tips for your visit to Prosecco Road - #4 Savor the Italian food.

Tips for your visit to Prosecco Road – #4 Savor the Italian food.

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Tips for your visit to Prosecco Road #3 – Get to know your wine

Tips for your visit to Prosecco Road #3 – Get to know your wine

A slow journey along the Prosecco Road allows you really get to know the wine you are drinking in a way not found in other parts of Italy. Because it doesn’t have the masses of tourists found elsewhere in the country, visitors to the Prosecco region can really immerse themselves and bask in warm Italian hospitality. There are no lines and no crowds, and no one seems to be in a hurry.

Prosecco region, Valdobbiadene, Italy

A view across the beautiful Prosecco region.

OK, now let’s talk about the wine.

What is DOCG?

The Prosecco region has a DOCG denomination. DOCG is short for the fancy Italian words, “Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita.” It is part of a labeling and control system that Italy has created to help consumers know the regionally created products they are buying are genuine and of high quality. Because this system is key to understanding wine in Italy, our hosts Deb and Massi of Italy Unfiltered and Massi the Driver made sure to explain it to us right away.

denominacion de origen controlada e garantita

This marker shows that we are in a special agricultural area, “Denominacion de Origen Controlada e Garantita.” This means the grapes for the wine were grown in a specific region and that the wine is guaranteed to meet exacting specifications for quality.

DOCG wines are made from grapes grown only in the specific region known for the wine’s production.

Any bottle bearing a numbered DOCG seal was created following a well-defined set of rules for the blending of grape varietals, and has been tested not only for taste but also at the molecular level to exacting quality standards.

DOCG label

DOCG is not exclusive to Prosecco. Here is a DOCG label on a bottle of Chianti Classico. Because of the label, we know this bottle was crafted to exact standards.

If a wine doesn’t pass any of these tests, it doesn’t get approved for the little numbered paper seal. In other words, if you see a seal with the letters “DOCG” on an Italian wine, you know it was created and checked to meet exacting standards so is a good representative from the region. The Prosecco Road is full of wineries producing DOCG wines.

Bisol Prosecco

A glass of DOCG Prosecco at the Bisol winery.

Visiting the Prosecco region

Along Prosecco Road, it is very easy to visit lots of wineries that produce DOCG wines, as they are extremely close together. I’m talking about sometimes just a few feet away from the next. Because each one offers visitors a unique experience, you really can really learn a great deal about the wine and region. At the Bisol winery, for instance, you can tour the museum in their original cellar and soak up the history of wine making both at that winery and in the region.

Bisol museum

Bisol winery cellar museum.

Bisol museum wines

Historic wines in the Bisol museum.

At another winery, you learn a little bit about the different soils in the region as well as what each soil type brings to the Glara grapes grown in it. You also hear how those grapes are blended to create the different wines offered.

Adami winery display

The Adami winery had a display showing some of the different soil types in which grapes are grown.

Grapes galore

Grapes are everywhere throughout the region, often running right along the road like a hedge. Vines of Glara grapes decorated people’s front yards and were planted right next to buildings as if the grape growers didn’t want to waste one single square foot of this fertile land. Seriously, we could have stuck our hand out the car window and touched a vine if we’d wanted to.

Prosecco region grapes

Glara grapes growing in the Prosecco region

Many of the wineries are small, family-owned operations without a formal tasting room staff. Instead, it is often the wine maker or close family member who pours and explains each wine to you. And what generous pours! In many cases you can get a little tour of the winery, as well. Imagine how much you can learn with so many mini-tutorials during your visit.

Vigne Matte winery

An antique spittoon at the Vigne Matte winery.

Le Colture winery

Steve and Ann pose at the Le Colture winery.

And with so few tourists around, even in the high Italian tourist season, we often had the wineries to ourselves. It was such a wonderful, relaxing way to enjoy sampling some of the world’s best wine.

Deb and Massi

Our hosts, Massi and Deb, at the Vinge Matte winery. We were the only ones there except for the neighbor’s cute puppy who just loved following us around.

Other tips for your visit to Prosecco Road:

#1 Hire a driver and local guide

#2 Stay at an agriturismo


Our tour of the Prosecco Road and transportation were complimentary from Italy Unfiltered and Massi the Driver. The opinions expressed are our own.

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Tips for your visit to Prosecco Road – #2 Stay at an agriturismo

Tips for your visit to Prosecco Road – #2 Stay at an agriturismo

If you’re wondering what an agriturismo is, don’t worry. You’re in good company. I had no idea the word even existed before our trip to Italy this summer. In fact, it wasn’t until I stayed in one that I gained a good understanding of what they are and how they can take your Italian vacation to the next level.

Agritourismo businesses area everywhere in the Prosecco region near Valdobbiadene, Italy.

Agriturismo businesses are great places to stay in the Prosecco region near Valdobbiadene, Italy.

Simply put, an agriturismo is a small, family-owned tourism business, like a bed and breakfast, attached to a larger agriculture-related business that produces and sells something. Along the Prosecco Road, you won’t find a Hilton Garden Inn, but you will find all kinds of agriturismo businesses catering to the handful of tourists who have discovered this beautiful area.

Our hosts, Deb and Massi of Italy Unfiltered and Massi the Driver, arranged for us to stay at the Roccat winery agriturismo business. Beautiful flowers greeted us outside the front door, a sample of the warm hospitality we were about to experience.

Flowers at Roccat winery

Lovely flowers outside the Roccat winery agriturismo inn.

The family renovated an old barn on their property into a six room bed and breakfast in the year 2000. Each is clean, comfortable and has a private bath with toiletries provided. Breakfast, served in a charming, sunlit room is simply wonderful. They serve locally made jams, as well as meats and dairy products from nearby farms. There are cereals, as well, along with baked goods from a local bakery. My favorite was a wonderful cake. I had two pieces each morning. Don’t judge. If you tried it, you would, too.

Breakfast at Roccat

The breakfast spread at the Roccat winery agriturismo. It is included with the room.

Roccat breakfast cake

This homemade cake at the Roccat Agriturismo was the perfect breakfast food.

The rooms provide a cultural experience you won’t get if you stay in a chain hotel, and we liked that. Be aware, though, that the air conditioning is to Italian standards, meaning it doesn’t cool the room as much as Americans might be accustomed to. Also, like most places in Italy, washcloths are not provided, so if you typically use one you might want to pack one in your bag.

What was great about staying at the agriturismo is that after breakfast, we went out the back door and were in the middle of the winery. The morning of our second day there, we met the wine maker, Clemente, and walked about 20 steps to the area where they produce and bottle the wines.

Roccat winery winemaker

Clemente at Roccat winery.

There, Clemente explained to us the process for creating Prosecco and explained how it is different than Champagne made in France. While both wines undergo a secondary fermentation that puts bubbles in the wine, the method used for that fermentation is different. In Champagne, it happens in the bottle. In Prosecco, it takes place in large vats. At the end of the Prosecco process, the temperature in the vat is dropped below freezing, killing the yeast and stopping the process.

Cold fermentation vat

Huge vats of wine are chilled to below freezing to stop the secondary fermentation. The ice on the door to this vat shows that the process is being stopped.

Once the secondary fermentation is done, the winery seeks permission from the governing authorities to bottle the wine. When they have it, they send it through pipes to the bottling machine.

Roccat winery bottling machine

Clemente explains the bottling process.

To learn a little more about the wine making process, watch this video. Massi does a great job translating what Clemente explained.

After our tour, we walked the 20 or so steps back to the tasting room at the agriturismo, a room they call the tavern, and sat down to sample the wine.

This beautiful great room is ideal for group gatherings as well as wine tastings.

This beautiful great room is ideal for group gatherings as well as wine tastings. Photo Credit: Roccat Winery.

It was a little earlier than normal for drinking wine, so I won’t say the exact time that we started other than to say it rhymes with “hen dirty” in the morning. Again, please don’t judge. We were conducting important research so we could share with you, the readers of our blog.

Roccat winery tasting

Clemente pours a generous sample of Prosecco at Roccat winery. It was delicious!

Our stay at Roccat gave us a glimpse into Italian culture and wine that you don’t get at most hotels. Without this experience, our visit to Italy simply wouldn’t have been the same. That’s why staying in an agriturismo is our number two tip for your visit to the Prosecco Road.

Other tips:

#1 Hire a driver and local guide

#3 Get to know your wine


Our tour of the Prosecco Road and transportation were complimentary from Italy Unfiltered and Massi the Driver. The opinions expressed are our own. If you would like to know more about Roccat winery, click [HERE].

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Tips for your visit to Prosecco Road – #1 Hire a driver and local guide

Tips for your visit to Prosecco Road – #1 Hire a driver and local guide

If you like Prosecco wine, you’ll love Valdobbiadene. I promise you will.

Valdobbiadene was unlike any other wine region we'd ever scene. The vines followed the terrain we were never more than a stone's throw away from a winery.

Valdobbiadene was unlike any other wine region we’d ever seen. The vines followed the terrain we were never more than a stone’s throw away from a winery.

Our visit there this summer was one of our favorite and most memorable stops on our tour through Italy. We’ve wrestled for weeks about how to write about such an extraordinary experience and yesterday, decided one blog post was just not going to do it. So, this is the first in a series about our visit to the Prosecco region. We’ll start with our most important tip: Hire a professional drive and local guide.

Admittedly, we wouldn’t have even known about this place without the help of Massi the Driver and his wife, Deb from Italy Unfiltered.

We can't imagine visiting the Prosecco region without the expertise of Massi the Driver and his wife, Deb, of Italy Unfiltered.

We can’t imagine visiting the Prosecco region without the expertise of Massi the Driver and his wife, Deb, of Italy Unfiltered.

Italian-born Massi and his American wife, Deb, have spent a lot of time in Valdobbiadene (pronounced valdob’bja:dene). It took me a month to learn how to properly pronounce the name of this town (and another month to spell it) and I can’t imagine trying to navigate the it on our own. Nor would I have wanted to. By hiring a licensed driver and local guide, you not only don’t have to worry about reading street signs in Italian or understanding the rules of the road, but you can also enjoy the view and make the most of your time there.

Massi the Driver and his wife, Deb, of Italy Unfiltered knew exactly where to go and what to see and do in the Prosecco region in Valdobbiadene, Italy.

Massi the Driver and his wife, Deb, of Italy Unfiltered knew exactly where to go and what to see and do in the Prosecco region in Valdobbiadene, Italy.

Because they had been to many of the wineries on previous trips (all in the name of research, of course), they knew exactly which ones to visit, what their business hours were, and what we could expect at each tasting.

Deb and Massi knew all the best wineries to visit in Valdobbiadene and more importantly, how to get there.

Deb and Massi knew all the best wineries to visit in Valdobbiadene and more importantly, how to get there.

One of the other great things about having this dynamic duo show us around is that they knew many of the wine makers, by name. That meant a lot. At most places, if the wine maker was around, we were able to meet him or her, visit about what makes their wine unique and most times have a private tour.

Roccat winery, Valdobbiadene, Italy

Deb and Massi with the wine maker at Roccat Winery in Valdobbiadene, Italy.

Both Deb and Massi speak Italian and that also helped. A lot. While many of the wineries had English-speaking staff, some didn’t. No matter where we were, Deb and Massi were able to help interpret and ask our questions in the wine makers’ native language. They were also able to help us order food at restaurants, get directions to the bathrooms, and help us order wine to be shipped back home. And let me be honest, I absolutely love listening to people speak Italian. To me, it is the most beautiful language I’ve ever heard.

We loved having a private driver who would stop whenever we saw something we'd like to take a picture of, like this beautiful hydrangea.

We loved having a private driver who would stop whenever we saw something we’d like to take a picture of, like this beautiful hydrangea.

I also loved having a private N.C.C. driver (that’s a special license for tour drivers in Italy) who would stop whenever I wanted him to so that I could take a photo of something like a beautiful hydrangea. And the vines. And the sunset. And the church. And so on.

The benefit of having a knowledgable local was that Deb was able answer our questions about food and wine in the area and customize our trip according to our interests and abilities.

show us around and answer questions about the Prosecco region in Valdobbiadene.

Our guide, Deb, was able to show us around and answer questions about the Prosecco region around Valdobbiadene.

Deb and Massi took us to so many great places where we had unique views and incredible photo ops.

Deb and Massi took us to so many great places where we had unique views and incredible photo ops.

Trust me when I say that maneuvering your way around Valdobbiadene and the surrounding area is not easy and that hiring a driver and guide is worth the money. While our tour and transport services were complimentary this time, we wouldn’t dream of going back without enlisting the help of a licensed driver.

Deb and Massi were so much fun to be around and we will likely be lifelong friends.

Deb and Massi were so much fun to be around and we will likely be lifelong friends.

In addition, we really did have a fantastic time with this couple. We drank together, ate together, laughed together and made memories together that will a lifetime. And that, my friends, is priceless.

Other tips:

#2 Stay at an agriturismo

#3 Get to know your wine


Our tour of the Prosecco Road and transportation were complimentary from Italy Unfiltered and Massi the Driver. The opinions expressed are our own. If you are interested in booking tour or transport services with Deb and Massi, you can email them at dlarsen5@icloud.com

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Tips for your visit to Prosecco Road in Valdobbiadene, Italy. #1 - Hire a driver and guide.

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Five tips for wine tasting in Tuscany

Five tips for wine tasting in Tuscany

I’ve done wine tastings before. You pull into a winery, hear all about their wonderful product while sampling a flight of four to five wines poured out in small, two-sip portions 10 seconds apart, decide whether to buy, and then head out the door. So, when we set out on a complimentary wine tasting tour in the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany with our hosts Deb of Italy Unfiltered and Massi the Driver, that’s about what I expected. I could not have been more wrong.

Massi, Deb, Steve and Ann

Massi, Deb, Steve and Ann stop for a picture in Tuscany.

The wine tasting tour Deb and Massi took us on in Tuscany was completely different than anything we’ve ever experienced and we loved it! We think everyone who can should taste wine there. And when you go, remember these five tips to help you have the very best experience possible.

1. Have a driver and guide

Having a driver and guide made all the difference in the world. Driving in a foreign country means learning new traffic patterns as well as new road signs. And in Italy it means learning a whole new culture of driving where lane lines and stop signs are often only seen only as suggestions and driving in the wrong parts of town will result in hundreds of dollars in fines. I’m not kidding.

Massi the driver and van

Massi the Driver knew all the best routes and with him driving, we got to enjoy the view.

I didn’t have to worry about any of that, nor did I have to worry about trying to figure out where we were going which it turns out was down lots of winding, hilly one-lane roads with about 2.4 million roundabouts. Instead of arriving white-knuckled and stressed from the drive, I was relaxed and glad to have had the opportunity to enjoy the scenery rather than focusing on the road.

Tuscan hills and vineyards

Looking over olive groves and across the vineyards of Tuscany.

Having a guide was wonderful because we began to hear the stories of the wineries and the wines before we ever arrived at a property. We learned about the natural, organic method used by wine makers in Tuscany, and about how the rose bushes planted at the end of the rows help growers notice potential disease before it reaches the vines.

Roses in Tuscany

Roses like these help wine makers gauge the health of their vines.

We were educated about the grape varietals in the wines, and about the significance of the letters “DOCG” on a label on the neck of a bottle. By the time we got out of the car, we knew something about where we were and what we were tasting. Our experience was so much richer because of it.

2. Take it slowly

Each of the properties we visited were small, family run operations. After arriving, we met our hosts and spent a good amount of time chatting and getting to know them before we ever tasted a single wine. For the owners of the wineries, it felt like it was more about building relationships and showing pride in their work than making a sale. And we liked that.

Wine tasting in Tuscany

Steve and Deb relax on a terrace, enjoying the wine, food, and view.

At one winery, we had a tour of the cellar, seeing the stainless steel vats where the grapes fermented, turning into wine. We then learned about how they use oak barrels to fine-tune the flavor of their wine.

Wine barrels

Wine barrels.

Next, as a bonus, we saw how they press their own olive oil from trees on their farm. As we chatted, we heard the story of how it took 10 years for them to get a permit to build the cellar and their home above, that before then, they had to work out of a shed and constantly move equipment in and out. By the end of the conversation, we actually knew the family and understood the passion they put into their craft.

Steve and Ann with winemaker

Steve and Ann stop for a photo with Sam, one of the wine makers.

When it came time to taste the wine, there were no hurried two sip pours. Instead, the wine maker offered enough of each wine for us to savor, along with heartfelt conversation that made us feel at home on their beautiful properties.

3. Savor the food parings

At each winery, the wine maker offered us food pairings as we sat sipping delicious wines. This wasn’t a plate of cheap crackers or bowl of pretzels, either. Instead, they would pour a wine and then disappear into the house, returning with beautifully plated Italian snacks including prosciutto, bruschetta, cheeses, and olive oil. Every morsel was delicious and served to make the wines even better.

Food pairings for wine tasting in Tuscany

With one tasting, we sere served some bruschetta, as well as prosciutto, salami, cheese, and honey.

At one winery, the owner gave us a sampling of organic jams that she cans from fruit she grows in her garden. We put dabs of these on pecorino cheese from the region and delighted in every single bite.

Tuscan jams

One wine maker offered us homemade jams made from fruits and vegetables in her garden.

4. Stop along the way

Because we had a private driver and guide who knew where we were going and how long it would take to get there, we could stop along the way and explore some locations we never would have found on our own. One fond memory is a stop in a little walled town called Castellina in Chianti.

Tuscan flowers at a winery

Everywhere we looked, we saw beautiful flowers, like these at one of the wineries we visited.

There, we explored the narrow streets, while learning that hundreds of years ago the cities of Florence and Siena constantly fought over control of the town. Today, there is a statue showing how the town has been influenced by both cities.

Castellina in Chianti

This statue, in Castellina in Chianti, shows how the city was pulled toward both Florence and Siena.

Ann has always wanted a big olive wood board to use to serve meats and cheeses at home, and Deb and Massi knew just the place. They led us to a store and said the prices here would be better than anywhere else. I have to admit, we were impressed enough with the price that we bought one, but curious as to whether it really was the best price we kept our eyes open for the rest of the trip. Looking back, I’m happy to report that the board we bought was anywhere from 20-100 Euros ($25-$125) less than any other board we found.

Olive wood serving board

We bought one of these beautiful olive wood serving boards. Deb and Massi knew just where to get the best deal.

And, because we thought it was a beautiful place with a really cool tunnel-like construction along the city wall, here’s another gratuitous picture from Castellina in Chianti.

Tuscany through a window

Peeking out a window in the city wall of Castellina in Chianti.

We had one other unique stop on our tour through the Chianti region, a stop at a Antica Macelleria Cecchini butcher shop that was featured by Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations. We posed for a picture with Don Dario Cecchini, shouting, “carne!” (meat) instead of, “cheese.”

Steve and Ann with butcher

We stopped to pose for a picture with this butcher who was featured on one of Anthony Bourdain’s shows.

As we walked away from the butcher shop, Deb and Massi told us they also offer a meat lover’s tour that stops at this place for a multi-course dinner featuring some of the best the shop has to offer. I can’t wait to come back and sink my teeth into that juicy tour.

5. Revel in the affordable prices

While Ann and I aren’t experts by any means, we are pretty up-to-date with pricing of wines because its something we enjoy.

Chianti wine bottles

Chianti wine in the traditional basket. While a decoration today, originally, the wine bottles were round so they were put in a basket so they would stand up.

Sitting in Chianti, drinking some of the best wines the region has to offer, I couldn’t believe how good the prices were. We were shocked to learn that good bottles of wine were available for 10 Euros, or about $13.00. Even with the cost of shipping factored in, the prices were very reasonable and, I daresay, less than we’d pay in the United States for a similar wine. At times I almost laughed when I saw the price list because I thought they had to be kidding. But that’s fair market price in Italy, and one of the advantages of visiting wineries in Tuscany. Get a few bottles, ship them home, and savor your savings along with the wine.

Oak wine barrel

An oak barrel is used to hold wine as it ages. The oak imparts flavors to the wine.

At the end of the day, I reflected that wine tasting in Tuscany was not at all what I expected. The beautiful scenery, the excellent wines, new information, and friendly company made it far better.

Massi and Deb

Massi and Deb. We sure miss these two.

I am so glad we had access to the expert knowledge of Italy Unfiltered to share with us some of the best wineries the Chianti Classico region has to offer, as well as Massi the Driver to take us right to their doors. We will long treasure the memories we made that day, especially in October when the weather is cool enough for safe shipping and the wine we purchased there arrives.


Our wine tour and transportation were provided to us free of charge by Italy Unfiltered and Massi the Driver. The opinions expressed are our own.


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