The Birthplace of Chianti Classico

Birthplace of Chianti Classico

The pioneers of winemaking in Tuscany's most recognized region continue to expand

their legacy through a Tuscan immersion for wine and food enthusiasts. 

By Stephanie Gutierrez

Located in the picturesque Tuscan hills of Gaiole in Chianti, Ricasoli is the oldest winery in Italy and the birthplace of Chianti Classico wine. Since 1141, the Ricasoli family has dedicated themselves to the continual improvement of the region’s viticulture and viniculture at their famous Brolio estate. In the mid 1800s, Baron Bettino Ricasoli conducted studies of the estate’s soils and blends of different grape varieties. This commitment to experimentation resulted in the Sangiovese-based recipe for Chianti Classico, born under the Ricasoli label.

Ricasoli continues to be the most representative wine producer in Chianti Classico. Today, the owner and president of the estate, Baron Francesco Ricasoli, the 32nd generation of the family, continues with the pioneering spirit of his ancestors. He consistently encourages new ideas and concepts and is leading innovation in the region through extensive research of soil types and the clonal selection of the Brolio Sangiovese grape.

The 2,965-acre estate includes more than 580 acres of vineyards and 65 olive groves surrounded by thick woodlands of oaks and chestnuts at the base of the iconic Brolio Castle. Ricasoli is not just a winery, but also a leader in gastronomy and hospitality. Guests can visit for a day of wine tasting, touring and dining at the Osteria del Castello. And, for those wanting to extend their stay, the Ricasoli estate includes a beautifully restored, 18th century farmhouse.

For a Noble Meal, Dine at The Osteria del Castello

At the Osteria del Castello, Ricasoli connects the world of food, wine and hospitality into one. Guests will feel at home here with the warm Tuscan ambiance and keen attention to detail while retaining the magic of being in a castle set in surroundings worthy of a renaissance painting.

Birthplace of Chianti Classico 2The food is a tribute to this region rich in agriculture and culinary history. As if the chefs didn’t have plenty of inspiration from the breathtaking views, the Osteria has its own vegetable garden, which provides fresh produce for seasonal dishes quintessential to the Chianti Classico region. The menu offers traditional Tuscan fare alongside contemporary creations using only the finest Tuscan ingredients: the winery’s very own extra virgin olive oils and vegetables, delectable meats, and fresh seafood, all paired with the perfect wine.

For a Tuscan Holiday, Stay at The Agresto Guest House

Hospitality at Ricasoli doesn’t stop at the Osteria, it continues on to its Agresto, a charming Tuscan farmhouse. While agritourism has been growing, Ricasoli is taking it to the next level by offering guest accommodations.

Agresto, a picturesque 18th century farmhouse, sits on the top of a hill southwest of Brolio Castle surrounded by vineyards. Renovated following Tuscan country-style architecture, Agresto includes a spacious living room, cozy dining room and six bedrooms. It’s the perfect place for an extended leisurely stay in the region. Guests can enjoy the spectacular views of the towers of Siena to Mount Amiata and Radicofani, while relaxing in the garden, swimming in the private pool or barbecuing and dining al fresco on the veranda.

A dirt road through the vineyards connects guests to the Agresto, so if you are planning to book a stay, a car will be needed. The Agresto is available for a minimum two-night stay with the possibility of renting the entire house for a full week during July and August.

Experience History and Chianti with a Visit to the Castello di Brolio

The Castello di Brolio, or Brolio Castle, dates back to the Middle Ages. It has been property of the Ricasoli family since 1141 and is still home to the current Ricasoli baron, Francesco Ricasoli, and his family. Through the centuries, the castle has suffered numerous destructive attacks as a result of battles, from the Aragonese and Spanish assaults during the 15th century, to disputes in the 17th century, to the aerial bombings and rounds of artillery during World War II. As a result, the castle has been rebuilt and modified several times.

Today, it bears the marks of the different eras: fortified medieval bastions, Romanesque and neo-Gothic additions, and unique 19th-century Tuscan details. Brolio Castle towers over the Ricasoli lands, the most extensive in the Chianti Classico area, which unfold with a continuous succession of colors and hues over hills, valleys, and thick woodlands of oaks and chestnuts.

Ricasoli is a wine lover’s dream full of endless possibilities. Visitors can choose from an array of experiences including picnics in the vineyard, bike tours, sunset tours, olive oil tastings, and Grand Cru tours in addition to dining at the Osteria and staying at the Agresto. The tours take you back in time with a visit to the old family house, Brolio Castle, the gardens, and the private family chapel, making for a truly unforgettable experience. Every tour and experience has been carefully planned so you can just sip, relax, and enjoy.

Additionally, for cycling aficionados, Ricasoli is not only a sponsor of the vintage cycling event L’Eroica but also part of the course. As the course reaches the castle, Ricasoli lights up the path with dozens of candles leading to their Agribar Eroica Caffè, welcoming cyclists along their way. The next L’Eroica race in Chianti will be in October 2019, however, Ricasoli is also sponsoring L’Eroica California in April 2019. Tour details and booking can be found on the Ricasoli website at http://www.ricasoli.com.

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