Wine Tour & Cooking Vacation in Tuscany and Umbria
There is a reason that sommeliers and wine professionals are obsessed with the notion of “terroir.” To truly understand a grape’s expression, you have to go to the source. What better way to experience the wines of Italy than to pair them with tours of picturesque Tuscan and Umbrian hill towns, historic abbeys, bustling markets, and hands-on lessons in the culinary heritage of the region? From Chianti to Brunello, Vin Nobile di Montepulciano to Sagrantino and Grechetto, guests on this wine tour in Italy will experience varietals both familiar and unfamiliar – all at peak production and on their own turf. This all-inclusive wine tour package combines wine-tasting with cooking school and a holiday in Italy.
Wine Tasting Tour & Cooking Vacation Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival
Arrival in Rome. Transfer by train to Chiusi Chianciano station, where you will be greeted and shuttled to the inn. You will have time to relax and explore the property before joining the full group for dinner, featuring an introduction to Tuscan and Umbrian wines with our wine educator for the week, Greg Ricks. Dinner will be in one of our favorite restaurants.
Day 2: Cortona, Syrah Wine Tasting , Pasta- Making Cooking Class
Best known as the picturesque hill town in “Under the Tuscan Sun,” Cortona is bustling with small boutiques selling unique artisan leather, textiles, clothing, jewelry, art, and food. Down the road lies one of the region’s most peaceful spots, the Ciel di San Francesco monastery. The monastery dates back to the 1200s and was built into a mountain over the course of hundreds of years. Said to house the cell where St. Francis lived and prayed, the monastery is surrounded by the picturesque Val d’ Chiana.
After a tranquil walk on the grounds, we will visit central Cortona’s shops, then board a bus to a nearby winery for a tasting of Syrah, including a discovery of why these Italian grapes express themselves so differently from their cousins in Australia and California. Finally, we will return to our cucina for an evening cooking class, featuring handmade pasta with a rich ragu of wild boar and beloved local Sagrantino wines.
Day 3: Chianti Wine Tasting & Wood-Fired Outdoor Grilling Cooking Class
Today, we head west for the wine region of Chianti, legendary for its Instagram-worthy panoramas and bold, full-bodied grapes. We’ll stop for a walk through the 12th-century Brolio Castle where Bettino Ricasoli developed Chianti Classico with mostly Sangiovese grapes. To train our palates, we’ll visit an outstanding cantina for a “degustazione” (tasting) with the sommelier.
After experiencing Chianti on its own stomping grounds, we’ll return home to craft a bruschette festa including an array of wood-fired meats. This Italian specialty of grilled bread with various toppings, including olive oil grown on the property, is central to the culture of the region and Chef Gerri’s cucina.
Day 4: Montalcino Wine Tour & Chef's Dinner at the Cucina
Our morning begins with a drive through the “badlands of the crete senesi” to the beautiful monastic Benedictine retreat Monte Oliveto Maggiore Abbey, where walls in the cloister are covered with the seductive paintings of Signorelli and Il Sodoma. After a guided tour of the library, refectory, and frescoes, we will head to an outstanding modern vineyard in Montalcino. There, we’ll sip Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino followed by a light lunch of regional specialties. In the evening, we will reconvene in the cucina for dinner with our chefs.
Day 5: Castiglione del Lago Green Market tour, How to Make Gnocchi & Rustic Roasts
Wednesday is the open-air market day in Castiglione del Lago, just five minutes from Cucina della Terra. Words cannot adequately express the social atmosphere and the warmth of small-town life you’ll feel as we meander shops overflowing with the renowned salumi, cheeses, balsamics, lentils, farro, beans and olive oils. For those looking for a “deal,” this is the day!
If desired, you can visit the Palace of the della Corgna family and walk through the narrow passageway of the fortress to get a better feeling of defense centuries ago. Our afternoon lunch provides a taste of the famous porchette sandwiches and torta al testo of Umbria. The afternoon allows time for a walk through the hills or relaxation before returning to the cucina for a night of crafting one of Italy’s most beloved foodstuffs and our most sought-after gnocchi dish: gnocchi with mushroom ragu. This evening also includes a master class in the techniques of roasting.
Day 6: Orvieto Wine Tour, How to Make Risotto & Mediterranean Fish Cooking Class
The former papal state of Orvieto sits atop a large butte of volcanic rock called “tufa.” At the base of the town, a necropolis bears the remains of Etruscan tombs, while in the town center, a 175-foot deep well (designed in the 13th century) remains a feat of engineering. At the top of the town lies a glistening Gothic cathedral, built in the 1300s and housing magnificent frescos, mosaics and stained glass.
After our walk through the town, we continue our journey through the hills of Orvieto to a winery, where we will taste refined examples of Orvieto and consider whether the protected IGT appellation will change the future of Italian white wines. In the evening, we will return home to enjoy cooking school, where we will craft perfectly creamy shellfish risotto and other dishes.
Day 7: Montepulciano Wine Tour
In the morning, we will meet for a brunch of salumeria, salads, and frittata. The afternoon will mark our final adventure, high in the hills of Tuscany, overlooking the olive groves and vineyards of the Val di Chiana. In Montepulciano, we will meet the regal owner of a Villa and enjoy a tasting of the vineyard’s premier labels (Vin Nobile di Montepulciano, Rosso di Montepulciano and Colli Chianti Sinesi) all crafted in strict adherence to the traditional methods. We will remain at the winery for dinner, enjoying charming Italian hospitality and a gorgeous moonrise over the vineyards.
Day 8: Early Morning Departure by Train to Rome
A farewell breakfast concludes this unique food and wine holiday, followed by transportation to Chiusi Chianciano station.
**The above is a sample itinerary. Each trip's schedule may vary slightly to highligh the finest products of the season **
Cost of Tour
$3995 per person
Included with Tour
7 nights lodging in an Umbrian farmhouse (single or double occupancy)
7 Italian-style breakfasts, including espresso, biscotti, pane, patisserie, yogurt, fruit, and juice
7 lunches, either prepared on the property or part of local city tours
7 dinners either in the cucina or at a local restaurant
6 hands-on cooking classes
All transportation to and from daily tours on a chartered bus
Scheduled ground transportation to and from Chiusi Chianciano station
Limited travel insurance for medical coverage
Airfare and ground transport to and from Rome Fiumicino airport to Chiusi Chianciano station
Personal expenses including phone, tips for staff, as well as heating at the property. (Ambient temperatures are personal, and we prefer to leave the choice up to our guests. Costs run approximately 10 euro/night.) There is an addition 5 euro state tax per person paid directly to the innkeeper
We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance to protect your investment and put your mind at ease. There are a number of good agencies that will reimburse your costs should you need to cancel a trip because of unanticipated personal reasons.
A $500 deposit is required to secure your reservation. The Balance is due 90 days prior to departure. We accept Paypal or checks made payable to:
Cucina della Terra, LLC
333 East 30th St. #7K
New York, NY 10016
To reserve your spot fill out the information below:
You may contact Chef Gerri Sarnataro directly at: