Why choose Robertson Wine Tours?
We care, You cannot buy back time and we know what is expected from demanding and exacting standards of service and quality. Italy is a country you can return to often, so let us try to show it to you from a new perspective - through her foods and wines. Many of our guests have been to some other great wine regions in the World (Napa & Sonoma, Bordeaux OR Burgundy, South Africa, New Zealand) so we understand we need to ensure we are not covering old ground when it comes to winemaking techniques. You will only take you to places we have understood from the planning stage, will be the right fit in every respect. Most of all though it is the high regard that the wineries, and everyone we work with has for us and our clients that assures you of stellar experience.
Our USP (Unique Selling point) is that we can talk wine at every level and all the wineries we work with know this. You could be sitting on a roof top in Venice and we can present Nebbiolo from Piedmont or be enjoying the nature of a Masseria in Puglia while tasting the orange wines Fruili. We do not know anyone who does what we do and who can do it throughout Italy. Our strategy is to make wine approachable and to destroy so many of these snobberies and myths that unfortunately surround wine. Wine is fun, enjoyable and non competitive.. If you read our Testimonials you will understand what we mean.
Honeymoons, Anniversaries and Surprises
YES, YES, YES, Who wouldn't want to be involved in planning milestone moments, frankly we feel honoured and you can expect all the little touches that make something special.
Many of our clients tend to combine a wine tour of Italy with opportunities to learn about the exciting cuisine of the many regions. In Italy literally every town has its idiosyncrasies and unique recipes when it comes to food.
Itineraries in France, Spain and Portugal
Although we offer Italy as our main European destination clients have asked us to work for them in different wine regions that we are not physically present in, this includes wine and gastronomic tours to Burgundy and Bordeaux in France and in Spain and Portugal. We are able to do this as we have such an extensive network of contacts in the business and over the years we have made some extremely successful tours, it does take us longer to arrange, we need to be more cautious as we do not know the lay of the land as well as Italy and South America. With all that said we have some superb local partners in France and Spain and Portugal. Please note we offer this to clients who have travelled with us before.
Sample Itineraries for Italy
Italian Wine Tours Highlights
When to Visit
When to Visit. Italy can be visited all year round. March to Late November tend to be the months we work the most, with one exception: August. August is when Europe takes its break and no more so than in Italy when everything semi stops and families rush to the beaches. If you want a beach holiday no problem, our opinion was that August was best left for the Italians to enjoy, We have have our altered our stance over the years. Rome, for instance is empty and a delight to be a visitor, hot yes, but with many advantages as do the other cities. Restaurants and shops can be harder but being a get up and go traveller it really works, Hotel rates away from the coasts are not necessarily excessive either.
Our Harvest season is from September through to November this can be an exciting and very interesting time to visit. During harvest this can mean rescheduling visits or being flexible with our itineraries as we have to respect the winemakers work at this most determinant time of their year.
Nebbiolo is the king of the wines of Italy and Piedmont's world-class cuisine matches perfectly. Do not think Piedmont stops in the villages of Barbaresco and Barolo. We normally start our tours in Turin or Milan. Piedmont should be from 4 nights up to 7 nights. We like to take our clients outside of the usual areas and investigate the lesser known regions such as Monferrato, Canale, Asti, Ghemme and Gattinara, Boca. The Food! Think truffles, porcini mushrooms and the wonderful fassone beef are all culinary treats and the restaurants in this area of Italy are among our favorites. Nebbiolo is absolutely not the only varietal we will be able to introduce you to. Barbera may never reach the heady heights of Nebbiolo, but it is an infinitely more robust and understandable varietal. Dolcetto, Freisa and Brachetto are a few more of the native varietals. Moscato from Asti can be outstanding (really). Native whites varietals of Arneis, Timorasso and Erbaluce are all exciting.
Perhaps the best encapsulation of what is so incredible about small production wineries and long macerated wines. Set in the most north-easterly of Italy and sharing an open border with Slovenia, Friuli is one of Italy's most unvisited wine regions making it an exceptional wine region for vineyard visits. You need to remember that these wineries are more often tiny family concerns making hand crafted wines no more than 30/50k bottles a year. Some highlights are the delightful town of Cividale del Friuli … a small and ancient medieval capital of the Longobards. Come and see why San Daniele del Friuli makes the finest ham in the world. This region's wines tend to use varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Bianco and Grigio, but there are a multitude of indigenous grapes too. When we take you into the vineyards and wineries you are going to meet the people who count, the owner and normally the enologist. This is a unique selling point of a wine based holiday in Friuli.
If you have not heard of orange wines … you are also in for a treat with wineries like Gravner, Paraschos and Dario Princic … all leading a movement towards extended skin contact in the white winemaking and even ageing the wines in amphoras rather than barrels. We almost would insist to show you the opportunity of what is going on in the world of orange wines.
Home to the most expensive vineyards in Italy, Prosecco, which oddly enough is generally an inexpensive wine, nestled in the beautiful hills of the Valdobbiadene, Conegliano and Asolo all at the heart of the Prosecco DOCG. Colfondo is the traditional method to make Prosecco, With the second fermentation in the bottle is a very special wine that we would love to introduce you to. This zone is also becoming a hotbed for smaller organic and biodynamic growers. Amarone, Soave and Bardolino are just a few gems as are the beautiful palladian villas, the compelling and unique town of Venice, the delightful city of Verona and the nearby gorgeous Lake Garda. Veneto is one of the biggest wine producers and Valpolicella and Amarone are among the biggest names in Northern Italian big reds. In actual fact, Amarone is a wine that often sets people on their own personal wine odysseys: come and understand what makes them so special, be it Ripasso, Recioto or Amarone. Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Molinara are the varietals for the reds and Glera for the white prosecco. Garganega and Trebbiano are the whites which make up Soave, a rich and totally under appreciated wine. At least 5 nights would be the way to go and you could combine your trip with Friuli or even Piedmont.
Unequivocally the most beautiful wine region of the world. There is nowhere quite as stunning as the forested and vine laden hills of Chianti or the clay laden hills of the Val d'Orcia with their cypress tree driveways. Bolgheri in the Maremma with the stunning maritime pines and amazing coastal views. Bolgheri is leading the pack with their international varietal blends. Think the Masseto and Messorio Merlot or the Cabernet Franc / Cab Sauvignon and the Bordeaux blends from Ornellaia. For us a Tuscan wine and food based vacation is as good as it gets: there is just so much to see. Do not be fooled into that Sangiovese is an easy grape to understand or enjoy, nor is that the only varietal that excels. If you have the time we would like you to really get to grips with Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Noble di Montepulciano, all Sangiovese based but with totally different terroirs and winemaking methods. Staying South of Florence or in Florence itself is the way to go in our mind and if we can have you for 5 nights in Tuscany you will have understood everything you need wine wise. Exceptional landscapes and wonderful foods and cooking experiences are all for the taking. Tuscany is world famous for a reason: come and discover it with us. Rome is the natural choice to pair up with a Tuscan wine tour and if you imagine from Rome to Florence by fast train is less than one hour it makes a lot of sense to combine the two.
The food power house of Italy. This region stretches from east to west Italy like no other, giving a huge range of styles and varieties of wines plus over 60,000 hectares planted. Vitis Labrusca, planted before Christ, is one of the most prominent plantings and is responsible for the famous Lambrusco wines. Like Asti, Lambrusco has had reputation for bulk economic wines, but like anything scratch the surface and you find a different reality and wonderful wines. The name Bologna alone is enough to get food lovers stirred up. Where do you start when you have Parma of the famed hams, the culatello made from rare black pigs, the Parmesan cheese, the balsamic vinegars, the pasta makers? This region is as it were, "the land" of the land of food.
There is a lot of sparkling wine made here, virtually all using the Martinotti-Charmat Method with different degrees of sparklingness! We have found exceptional Sangiovese, Malvasia, Cabernet and Chardonnay. Why would we be interested in Chardonnay and Cabernet? Well you need to consider that Napoléon used Bologna as capital of the Cispadane Republic from 1796. They brought their vines with them so they have had over 200 years to adapt, so really when does something represent tipicity (an important, but often misused term)? There really is so much to see here: the extraordinary and medieval beauty of Bologna, Ferrara and her incredible mosaics, Ravenna. If you love cars like us, this is also home to Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Pagani. There are plenty of opportunities to visit their museums and take one out for a spin. Consider by train it is only one hour from Florence or one hour and half to Venice: this is an extremely accessible region.
Winemakers from this region tell us that not only is Marche unknown they tend just to tell overseas buyers it is east of Rome. Marche is still beautifully unknown with stunning hilltop borgos (villages) with the coastal hills around Ancona being the most suggestive. Marche produces outstanding value white wines based on Trebbiano, Verdicchio, Pecorino, Bianchello and Passerina. As for the reds, well there is hugely powerful Montepulciano and Sangiovese varietals and blends really do excite in the Conero and Piceno wine zones. Other more nuanced red varietals to enjoy are Lacrima di Morro and Vernaccia Nera. There is an amazing amount of influences in Marche due to the Apennines Mountains that split Italy in half: the Adriatic coast and the region's four important rivers all allowing for a huge spectrum of micro climates. Wine or eno-tourism in Marche is still so fresh: you will not be troubled by tour buses and foreign tongues. This is a totally authentic region and all this makes for superb and interesting winery visits and very interested locals. The cuisine of Marche: outstanding seafood predominates the menus as Ancona is one of the most important fishing ports of Italy. "Olive Ascolane" are large stuffed green olives generally stuffed with meat and cheese coated in egg and breadcrumbs: simply delicious! The "Ciauscolo" is a delicately smoked pork sausage with fennel and garlic. The monumental "Brodetto all'Anconetana" is made from 13 different types of fish and seafood (number of diners at the Last Supper). Also in Senigallia (a small coastal port) lies Uliassi, probably Italy’s most famous fish restaurant. Come and discover this undiscovered land with us.
SOUTHERN ITALY AND THE ISLANDS
Robertson Wine Tours likes to think that we know how to stay ahead of the wine tourism curve (we started in Mendoza in 2003 when eno-tourism was a thought more than a reality) and in this instance we have to say we see and value the wineries of Southern Italy very much in this vein. Sicily, Campania, Puglia and Basilicata: this is where we see the most parallels. There is no tourism fatigue and the visits you are going to enjoy will always be with either the winemakers or owners. This is a far cry from the PR person who speaks languages at the massive cathedrals to wine. It makes for a far more fascinating visit than in many of the more famous wine regions of the world. Here in the South people are real, warm, hospitable and relaxed. For your hosts it will be a pleasure to be drinking and discovering their wines with you. Innovation is everywhere in the South and it is warm most of the year. It is a win-win situation. The ancient Greeks named Southern Italy Enotria "land of wine" It still is.
The most visited of Italy's southern regions for a reason. Naples, where pizza was born and the first tomato arrived from the new world to Europe, is a city of outstanding culture, museums and a frenetic energy all overseen by the mythical Mount Vesuvius. This port city is a law unto itself, much maligned but a true expression of Southern Italian culture and people. Let us unlock the secrets of Naples for you. The three stunning islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida (little visited) have all something unique and charming. The jewel of course is the Amalfi Coast where unforgettable views and stunning picture perfect cliff hugging towns are nestled next to spectacular wine and lemon trellising. There is something for everyone here: be it, Pompeii, Herculaneum or the intact Greek temple of Paestum. There is enough here for a week without even talking about the wines. Before we even leave the Amalfi Coast, we find world-class blended whites coming from the hills of Ravello and Furore with native varieties found only here like distinctive Ginestra and Ripolo.
Home to the third most important and noble grape of Italy: Aglianico. It is one of the most unknown and interesting varietals in Italy. Ask a Southern Italian winemaker which wine varietal fascinates them the most and we guarantee that it will be Aglianico. The quality of the wines of Aglianico del Vulture have finally gained traction around the world and it is certainly merited. Matera is where man first stopped in Europe being hunter and gatherer and settled. When did this happen? Well in the Palaeolithic period of history, which lasted from 2.6 million years ago to 12,000 years ago. Matera is unique and has just been voted as the cultural capital of Europe for 2019, hugely merited and great news for the whole of Basilicata. Robertson Wine Tours is based here for a reason.
Puglia's history is somewhat similar to Sicily's with invaders from Greece and Rome, then the Byzantine empire, followed by the Normans, Emperor Fredrick II and finally the Spanish, all who have left something for us modern day travellers to Puglia something to enjoy. But it is Fredrick II who has left the most in Southern Italy. Be it the Pythagorean mystery of Castello del Monte or the cathedrals of Trani and Bitonto, his mark is everywhere. Puglia is the historical and current powerhouse of winemaking in Italy: combined with Sicily makes up 35% of Italy's wine production. Not only is there wine, but beaches and seafood to die for and the most natural and simple ingredients in any cuisine in Italy. If you have ever wondered why Italians do not travel for their holidays, Puglia is one of the reasons.
Perhaps the most exciting wine region in Italy. The largest, most interesting and beautiful in the Mediterranean Sea. Colonized by Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Normans and finally by Garibaldi bringing it into unified Italy in 1860. No country this size has had more influences to bear on it than Sicily. These influences are so pronounced today in the food, the people and the fascinating mix of incredible sights all bound within this 1000 miles of beautiful coastline. Robertson Wine Tours can plan your Sicilian wine tour and combine this with culinary tours and cooking classes and more importantly with cultural and archaeological sites that are too numerous to name.
The second largest island and one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean Sea. Outstanding cuisine and landscapes that so few people know about. The wines are not based on Italian varietals at all, but on French. This makes sense when you think they are 140 miles from Italy and Corsica, a very close smaller neighbour to the North, is part of France. So here we have Grenache, called Cannonau, then Carignan, Vermentino, Vernaccia and Muscat to name but a few of the typical varieties. Less known and interesting are Monica and Nasco. The cuisine of Sardinia is completely unique: the staples are "meat, cheese, pasta and bread". And there are said to be more than three times the amount of sheep than people in Sardinia. We can enjoy fregula, a Moorish pasta similar to cous cous and malloreddus with pane carasau, a delicious paper thin bread you find everywhere. Being an island, seafood features with dishes like fregula in broth like soup with saffron fregula and mussels. Bottarga, a further speciality, is dried roe of mullet used in many pasta dishes. Perhaps this amazingly healthy diet has something to do with the fact Sardinia is also regarded as a blue zone, one of four in the world (Okinawa in Japan, Loma Linda in California and Nicoya in Costa Rica), where people often live past 100. To see the most important sites of Sardinia and enjoy some of the incredible local cuisine, 7 nights on the ground is needed. As we have stated before, few wineries receive wine tourists: they will be thrilled to meet you and share their time, traditions and wines with you. In Sardinia we make winery visits and wine tastings from March through to October avoiding August.
Sample Itineraries for Italy
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