As we glided down through the final layer of cloud cover I caught my first glimpse of Tuscany. Rolling vineyards, olive groves and Cypress trees stretched on as far as the eye could see – just like in the movies! I was glued to the airplane window for our entire descent into Florence.
Chianti had been on my list of wine destinations for years, so when Ruffino, one of the world’s most recognised producers, reached out with an invitation to experience their production and philosophy first-hand, I jumped at the opportunity.
I had three days to soak up as much Italian culture (and wine!) as possible, so staying at the Agriresort Ruffino on their flagship Poggio Casciano Estate put me at the heart of everything. I made myself right at home.
The resort itself is incredibly beautiful and offers everything a vinophile could ever ask for. You can stay, shop, tour the cellars, stroll through the vineyards, swim and dine with each experience offering a unique impression of the region and history of Ruffino.
My itinerary kicked off with an espresso in the courtyard and a tour of the recently refurbished 14th century villa – which is, again, like something straight out of a movie.
Rococo-style frescoes cover the walls and ceilings, and parquet floors lead the way up into the newly opened restaurant, Le Tre Rane – Ruffino, or down into the centuries-old cellar. Repeating archways open out into the Tuscan landscape where you can hop onto one of the extremely instagram-able Ruffino bicycles and ride out into the surrounding vineyards.
Terracotta planters overflowing with geraniums line the old stone walls and topiary gardens stretch out in opposite directions around the property. Beyond the citrus trees and past the cellar door is an open lounge area with a generous infinity pool that disappears into a mirror of it’s surroundings. The back-drop? Super-tuscan views of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vines – their fruit destined to become Ruffino’s Modus and Alauda. Mmmm…. I’d like to swim in some of that!
Following the tour was a tasting of the Super Tuscan wines and lunch with their amazing – and oh, so Italian – chef, Stefano Frassineti. I felt like part of the Ruffino family sitting there with the team, my husband, and a couple of Stefano’s close friends. It seemed like we had all known each other for years as we shared lovingly prepared local recipes and great wine. That very feeling of uncomplicated togetherness and comfort was a big part of what drew me to the wine business, and it’s moments like those that also happen to be the cornerstone of the Ruffino philosophy. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about bringing people together and sharing. Amen.
That evening we drove up to the Montemasso Castle for a cooking class and to watch the sun set over Florence. Perched at the top of a hill overlooking Florence, Montemasso was the first of Ruffino’s six Tuscan estates. The building dates back to the 11th century when the Monks of San Miniato built it in honour of San Salvatore da Montemasso. It has recently been restored and is now reserved for Ruffino’s corporate events. The historical stone cellar houses old vintages of Ruffino’s finest wines.
The cooking class was definitely a highlight, but I have to admit that I am, by no means, a natural nonna. Dinner had to be rescued more than a few times while I, crippled over in laughter, tried not to spill my Chianti.
That’s what you get when you invite the.wine.girl into your kitchen!
The next day after a delicious breakfast overlooking the vineyards, we set out to explore a couple more of Ruffino’s Tuscan estates and check out the team during harvest. And if you know me, you’ll know that visiting the vineyards is my favourite part of every trip – especially during the harvest!
The vineyard team were hard at work bringing in Colorino – a grape primarily planted in Tuscany to be blended into Chianti or Chianti Classico. The grapes were small, ripe and super aromatic. Perfect for a fine wine!
Walking through the vineyard it was easy to see how Ruffino has been able to build and maintain such a solid reputation for quality world-wide. The vines were all healthy and well cared for with a modest number of clusters on each one. The rocky soils force the plants to search deep into the ground for water. This kind of water stress is very important because it ensures concentration and quality in the fruit rather than quantity. The clusters were also nice and loose which promotes air circulation and reduces the risk of disease or rot.
We ended the day with a trip into Florence for dinner at a beautiful restaurant called La Loggia del Piazzale Michelangelo. It was the perfect way to wrap up an amazing Ruffino experience.
The next day, my husband and I drove back into Florence and spent the day roaming around the city – awe struck by pretty much every single thing we saw.
I kid you not, if you’ve never been to Florence, you have to go!
The art work and detail in everything is astonishing. And as if that and the wine hadn’t been convincing enough, the food pushed us over the edge.
Oh Italy, you never cease to amaze me.