I highly recommend starting your day at the Enoteca Consorzio Del Vino Nobile in centro (historic center) Montepulciano. The Consorzio is located on the lower level of the Palazzo del Capitano in the renown Piazza Grande, across from the duomo (church).
There you can taste the wines from all 230 members of Montepulciano’s Consorzio and with any luck, plan a same day cellar tour and private tasting at a local vintner.
Appointments to tour the cellars must be made in advance as most wineries in Tuscany do not accept “drop-ins” and some wineries are closed to visitors.
It is standard practice to tour the cellars and grounds before wine tasting, (oftentimes the winemaker will actually lead the tour).
Tours are routinely conducted in English, Italian or French, followed by a semi-private wine tasting in a small reception room. Tour prices vary according to the number and types of wines sampled.
Of course, Montepulciano is best known for its Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, but the Rosso di Montepulciano and the Vin Santo are also widely cultivated and promoted and can be sampled at many of the local wineries and enotecas.
Like the Consorzio, many wineries also offer exquisite olive oil tastings coupled with cheese and cold meat pairings for a nominal fee. Needless to say, there’s an unwritten rule when touring the wineries…show your gratitude to the winemaker and purchase a bottle of wine or two!
A few facts….the Consorzio Del Vino Nobile was founded in 1965 to monitor the market and to promote and improve the appellation. The enoteca displays wine bottles from most of the producers and offers several wine tasting options with a light fare menu. There is even a small gift shop on site.
When I visited Montepulciano in early October, the town was very quiet and void of tourists. Besides the extra attention given to us during our wine tasting, the hostess recommended a fantastic boutique winery for us to visit that afternoon.
Leave plenty of time to find the wineries as the roads twist and turn and change names often!
If you’re like me, “half of the fun” is planning your own itinerary.