Reported by J.S. Fletcher and Kathy M. Newbern
When architects join forces with winemakers, you are the winner.
Recent incursions into the world of Italian wineries by famous architects have added daring design to some of the world’s most tantalizing landscapes. The intoxicating result? Italy’s new “archi-wineries” – and thanks to a series of exclusive new day trips, no one is better prepared to show them to savvy travelers in style than Select Italy. The tours, collectively the ‘Archi-Wine’ Tour: When Architects Meet Winemakers, are three tours that focus on the hottest wineries in the Piedmont and Tuscany.
“Archi-Wine” Tour in Piedmont: When Architects Meet Winemakers (Full Day)
Departing from medieval Alba, Select Italy’s 9 1/2 hour Piedmont day introduces travelers to various aspects of the Ceretto brand.
The first stop is the colorful, little Cappella delle Brunate outside La Morra. This deconsecrated chapel, built in 1914 for those who worked in the surrounding vineyards, gradually fell into a state of disrepair. The owner of the Ceretto engaged two well-known artists, Sol LeWitt and David Tremlett, to transform it into a work of contemporary art. An interesting note is the artists’ fee was bottles of Barolo wine from the Ceretto family cellars.
This tour continues with a visit to “The Cube” at Ceretto’s Bricco Rocche Winery in Castiglione Falletto, where only Barolo wine is produced. “The Cube” is a modern, high-tech work of art in a stunning setting. Designed by the Turin architectural firm, Deabate, it is totally transparent landscape architecture presented as sculpture, and it blends seamlessly into the surrounding countryside.
The next stop is Ceretto’s headquarters at the Monsordo Bernardina Winery, just outside Alba. Housed in an 18th-century farmstead, this project is a magnificent combination of tradition and innovation. Lunch is enjoyed at the Ristorante La Piola in Alba’s beautiful Piazza Duomo. The tour continues at one of the region’s most noted truffle sellers, where a culinary workshop reveals the various processes involved in the preparation of white and black truffles.
This luxury tour is priced at $749 per person for two, $496 per person for four.
“Archi-Wine” Tours in Tuscany: When Architects Meet Winemakers I and II (Full Day)
Everyone’s heard the rumors about that irrepressible Tuscan sun, but how many know about the cutting edge wineries that have turned secret pockets of Tuscany into spectacular settings for wine and design lovers alike?
Renzo Piano’s cellar for the Rocca di Frassinello winery in Maremma, south of Siena, features a spire above a glass pavilion studded with three round mirrors that catapult the sun’s Tuscan rays down to a realm of 2,500 barrels below.
In Suvereto, also in Maremma, Vittorio Moretti enlisted architect Mario Botta (of San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art) to give the high-tech cellars of his Petra Wineries an extra jolt of visual splendor with an outsized cylindrical stone structure, with arcades on either side set into the green landscape. And there’s the resolutely modern oeuvre that Gae Aulenti, who famously reworked the Musée d’Orsay, has made for Antinori Vineyards, in Campo di Sasso near Bibbona. The state-of-the-art cellars of the Ca’ Marcanda Winery are camouflaged, with interlocking pavilions built from natural materials into slopes covered with transplanted 60-year-old olive trees.
Private “Archi-Wine” Tours
Not all the archi-wineries are open to the public. Select Italy’s day trips (of about 11 hours’ duration) from Florence to the latter two include lunch at the seaside restaurant La Pineta di Marina di Bibbona and guided tastings at the wineries (at Ca’ Marcanda, that includes DOC of Bolgheri, Barbaresco and Montalcino).
Separately, and also departing from Florence, new tours highlight the Rocca di Frassinello and Petra wineries. In addition to wine tastings, a gourmet lunch is included at the Enoteca la Cinquantina, located in an 18th-century farmhouse near the beach in Cecina. These luxury excursions ($725 per person for two people, $564 per person for three) include transportation in an air-conditioned luxury vehicle with an English-speaking guide and driver in addition to the lunch and wine tastings.
For more info on either Select Italy’s exclusive Tuscany or Piedmont winery tours, or to make bookings, call 800-877-1755 or visit SelectItaly.com.
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International Travel Examiner J.S. Fletcher and spouse, Kathy M. Newbern, report on luxury destinations, spas and cruising around the globe. They are award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers and created YourSpaReport.com and YourNovel.com, their personalized romance novel business.