TOURS

 

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.


Focus


To give you a once in a life-time trip with wines and foods you will never forget. We are primarily focused on Italy's major wine regions but come to Piedmont would you not want to see and enjoy the regal city of Turin? Or whilst enjoying the Colli (hills) of Friuli wouldn't you want to take a stroll in Trieste or spend an afternoon getting lost in Venice?

 

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.

Culinary Tours

 

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.

Here is a tour we have arranged in the Douro for some clients who have traveled with us in many places. Douro Viseu and Lisbon premium wine immersion


Sample Itineraries for Italy

We know it is helpful so see what some of our previous guests have done in the past or what we are currently doing; If you could, please complete the tour personalization form then we will be in touch. Tour personalization form

 


 

Italian Wine Tours Highlights


After six years of continuous investigation into Italy, the following are the wine regions we are currently working with in 2016/17


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.


Northern Italy

Piedmont
Fruili

Veneto

PIEDMONT


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.

We ran a superb immersion into Piedmonts wine and foods in tour for a small group in May Tour. Feedback from the clients was hugely positive as usual. Our abilities in Piedmont and beyond are unrivalled due to the exceptional guides, in fact with all the people we collaborate with, its teamwork and we have built a great team.


FRUILI

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.

For a serious look at Friuli as a wine destination you should think of a wine tour being about 5 nights and any trip we design into Friuli can easily be extended into Venice and Trieste and the gorgeous hills of prosecco. Please see here for a look at our wine and food experience in Friuli we will be running in October 2016.


Orange Wines

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. 


VENETO

 

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.

Our crafted experiences in Venice are working so well that we have developed wonderful days out in wine and food and Culture. in Here is the most unique of days with our Glass artist friends from Murano.

 


 


 

CENTRAL ITALY


TUSCANY

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.



EMILIA-ROMAGNA

 

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.


MARCHE

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.



CAMPANIA


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.

Once we move inland, we find the majority of Campania's vast 50,000 hectares of vines. The history of this wine region goes back even as far as the Etruscans. Cleopatra was served the wines of Falernum and this wine can be considered the world's first cult wine. Today we have an outstanding range of wines and none more so than the Aglianico based: Taburno and Taurasi wines. Piedirosso is a wonderful fruity and fresh wine so well paired with pizza. Whites are abundant and none more so than Fiano which is outstanding. Greco di Tufo (from the village of Tufo) also excites and Falanghina when tamed makes for interesting wine. Lacryma Christi  and Coda di Volpe make all for unusual and highly typical wines. The cuisine is exceptional with Michelin stars rubbing shoulders with mamas cooking in wonderfully authentic hosterias. We love to combine the wine regions of Campania with Rome, Basilicata and Puglia … all extremely accessible. There is even a train that takes to Sicily. Why not cross from Naples through to Basilicata and finish in Puglia? 9 nights would give you a fascinating view and scope of the wine of Southern Italy.

 

 

BASILICATA

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.

The wines and wineries of Basilicata are all to be discovered. With any wine tasting in Basilicata, expect real hospitality, outstanding hand crafted wines, welcoming people and some of the best olive oils in Italy. Basilicata is just beautiful due to the fact that it is 90% hills and mountains. It is almost like Tuscany without the castles and grandeur, but with untouched countryside and cliff hanging villages literally stopped in time. Naturally Aglianico is the focus on the reds, with Primitivo showing very well close to Matera that makes sense as just a few miles away you are in Puglia. Sangiovese and Montepulciano are interesting imports. Fiano leads the whites as it is the most typical varietal with Malvasia Bianca and Moscato Bianco.


PUGLIA


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.

The king of the reds here is Primitivo, but we wonder if Negromaro could eclipse its fame in the years to come. Recently have we noticed wine magazines calling Primitivo the old vine of Zinfandel. Perhaps they should rename Zinfandel the new world Primitivo. Carole Meredith from UC Davis decided she would get to the bottom of who came first and she firmly established Croatia is the origin of the Primitivo with the parent being Plavac Mali. Susumaniello, a curious variety, is becoming more widely planted, Aglianico also does well. Nero di Troia and Montepulciano from the North of Puglia are superb. For white wines Verdeca and Fiano are the ones to watch. We love the authentic masserias (farmhouses) of the Valle d'Itria or Manduria., lecce is unmissable as are the Aragonese fortified town of Otranto and the beautiful fishing port of Gallipoli.


SICILY


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.

We have to state right now that no wine tour to Sicily would be complete without visiting and tastings the wines and wineries of Etna. Mount Etna is Europe's tallest active volcano at 10,930 feet (3330 metres). Wines from Etna are mineral-rich, but like nothing you have ever tasted. Nerello Mascalese and Cappuccio are the red wine varieties of Mount Etna. Sicilian autochthonous (indigenous) grape varieties tend to be for white the Catarratto, the Grillo and the Inzolia. Marsala is made from the Muscat of Alexandria and the wines from Island of Pantelleria come from the Zibibbo, the Sicilian name for the Moscato. Nero d'Avola, a hugely important red variety, is planted extensively and when blended with Frappato you have Sicily's only DOCG wine … the Cerasuolo di Vittoria. International varieties are planted none more so than Syrah, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. The disastrous 2014 vintage of Italy did not affect Sicily thank goodness. Any wine and culinary themed vacation to Sicily needs time. Don't try to seeing or doing too much. In Sicily less is more. 10 nights is the ideal time frame for a wine tour in Sicily, but we understand that you sometimes do not have that amount of time. If that is the case then we can bring the wines of the other Sicilian wine regions to you and we can concentrate on Etna's wines or base ourselves in Palermo or in one of the incredible wine resorts and discover Sicily from there. We love Sicily … end of story.



SARDINIA

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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