Navigating Italian Wine Country

Wine tasting in Italy can be as complex and deep or easygoing and light as you make it — you just have to take it region by region. With literally hundreds of locales worth visiting for grapes alone, one way to make the whole experience easy, no matter how much of a wine connoisseur or novice you are, is to break the Italian boot into sections. Bring your wine-loving kids and make a sophisticated family vacation of it, or stick to just sampling with your partner as the grape-growing and wine-producing season in Italy booms.

Piedmont

Start north and work your way down to Italy’s southern region. Bordering Switzerland and France, just south of the Alps, Piedmont is known for its red wine, Nebbiolo and Dolcetto, grapes. The northern region produces interesting reds such as Barolo and Barbaresco, with varying tannic qualities and coloring, as well its popular Moscato d’Asti — a sweet sometimes sparkling wine. Taste test your way through the incredible mountain vistas and rustic forests amid medieval towns and architecture.

Trentino

For white wine drinkers, Trentino offers more options of the Pinot Grigio and Pinot Bianco variety. Also located in Northern Italy, Trentino resides in a rugged landscape surrounded by rolling natural parks and jagged mountain ranges. Located just a train ride or car trip north of the cosmopolitan streets and canals of Venice, your family can enjoy the best of both rural and urban worlds between wine tastings and sightseeing.

Vineyards of Trentino, Italy © Fedor Kondratenko | Dreamstime.com

Vineyards of Trentino, Italy © Fedor Kondratenko | Dreamstime.com

Tuscany

A little further south, toward Italy’s central landscape, the world-famous Tuscan wine region could have earned its popularity on beauty alone. Luckily, for wine aficionados, this region boasts excellent Chiantis, Montepulcianos and Brunello di Montalcinos — just pair with a hearty Bolognese pasta. Stay a few days and explore the expansive region’s art history, unique architecture and lesser-known quaint towns and attractions.

Umbria

For those blended reds and rich Sangiovese grapes, Umbria is a fun region to explore. Bordering Tuscany, Umbria boasts Medieval ruins and ancient architecture, surrounded by thick forests primed for truffle hunting and robust wine growing. Book a truffle-hunting trip and add a unique element to your wine-tasting tour.

Southern Italy

One region you may need to spend a significant amount of time, or make into its own trip: the wine-growing regions of Southern Italy. This landscape encapsulates all the vineyards of Puglia, Sicily, Sardinia, Calabria, Abruzzo and Campania — just to name a few. Rent a car and see the sights along the coast before booking a ferry to visit the beloved islands of Sicily and Sardinia.