Wine tasting in Tuscany has been a decades-long goal of Karen’s and mine, so when we finally got to Tuscany we knew we’d be spending some time in a winery. The interesting part is that, in Tuscany, Chianti reigns supreme. But in our little corner of heaven — San Gimignano — a curious wine grape called Vernaccia is the queen (it was explained to us that Vernaccia is a feminine grape… hence the “queen”). Vernaccia is a white wine grape that only seems to produce good wines in the San Gimignano region.
The borders of the growing region are quite well defined, centering around San Gimignano, so Vernaccia de San Gimignano became the first DOC defined in Italy. A DOC, short for Denominazione di Origine Controllata is the Italian equivalent of a French Appellation or an American AVA (American Viticultural Area). The problem was where to taste, but in Italy, minor problems seem to solve themselves. True to form, after eating at a great little Osteria in San Gimignano, we found a great house wine for an embarrassingly inexpensive price by California standards. The best part was the winery was only six kilometers up the road and less then two kilometers from our hotel. We made an appointment to taste the following afternoon.
Fattoria San Donato is one of the newer breed of eco-tourism wineries where guests can stay, enjoy house-prepared meals and partake in a number of other local wine and farming related activities. Although the ecotourism is new, don’t mistake this for a young, upstart winery. It has been in the Fenzi family for 85 years and it’s still going strong. Our hostess Federica was with us for most of the tasting and then we took a tour with Andrea, the winemaker/vineyard manager/general Jack-of-all-trades. Andrea’s English wasn’t the best but between it, the few words we had picked up in Italian. and similar sounding words in Spanish, we managed to have a great time in the vineyard and on the farm walk he took us on.
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