You are in Milan and hope to enjoy some fine wine tastings.
Great plan for 3 good reasons:
Milan district, Lombardy, is home to some of the best Italian wine, sparkling that is;
Wine tours in Italy are fun, inexpensive and really quite easy;
The countryside around Milan is pretty and a lovely change of scene respect to urban Milan.
So, let me tell you about:
Franciacorta; Lombardy wine region
Less than an hour drive from Milan sits Franciacorta, arguably THE Lombardy wine region.
Franciacorta is a small area south of Lake Iseo, east of Milan. 10,000 years ago it was covered in glaciers. Having those now retreated they left behind a mineral-rich soil, super appreciated as wine terroir!
Franciacorta is a great place to organise a wine tour. Many estates arrange tours of their premises and guided wine tasting with a sommelier. They can be private or organised for small groups.
But let’s go in order.
Let’s first find a base to explore the area!
Where to stay
Franciacorta is home to beautiful estates and palaces. They have now been converted in chic hotels and classy B&Bs. You are spoiled for choice but here are my top three!
Elegant and timeless palace. A place for the bon vivants.
Elegant, neat and romantic, Le Quattro Terre is an amazing option for a stay in Franciacorta. Not only they offer beautiful rooms but they also produce their own wines which you will be able to taste at the premises!
Plus, there is a great restaurant too! You can’t ask for more!
Perfect choice for an indulgent stay.
With its spa, the wide choice of eateries (three restaurants!) the garden, bars and terrace, Albereta will completely spoil you!
Franciacorta; Lombardy wine
Now you knowt where to stay!
Let’s go back to the important stuff… Wine!
Franciacorta is also the name of the renown sparkling wine made here. If you are a wine geek you can read more about it here!
If you like wine but prefer the practice to the theory, I’ll spare you all the technical information about it.
I’ll put it simply, Franciacorta DOCG is one of the finest choices in terms of Italian sparkling wines. Period.
Wine sampling near Milan or in Milan
So, back to us. You are in Milan and would like to try wine.
You can find wine bars within the city centre, sure.
But scouting the countryside is the way to drink some really special bottle.
I always find that a wine experience is more relaxing and interesting at wineries.
- For a start you get to see where and how they make the wine you are sampling;
- With some luck you get to meet the winemakers, estate owners or someone rather involved in the project. It’s really interesting as they know the wine way better than a shop assistant in a wine bar / shop;
- In a winery you often have the chance to taste wine that you won’t find in a wine shop. Especially if you show a genuine interest in the wines, you ask questions and act inquisitive. I’m thinking special vintages, special edition wines, little experiments the winemaker had fun with…
- Wineries are very often set in beautiful locations and sometimes even offer the opportunity to dine or stay at the premises;
- Finally, it’s possible to purchase wine directly at the estate. And the prices are more attractive at the source than at a retailer!
Top wineries near Milan
Here are my favourite estates to see when touring Franciacorta, Lombardy.
Quadra is a young winery. The estate is beautiful and the cellar state-of-art.
Its wines are elegant. The staff is kind, easygoing yet very prepared.
To make things even more attractive, there is an Osteria here. Food here is delicious, you are in Italy after all!
It last around 90 minutes. The experience starts with a walk in the vines and the cellar. After that and an introduction to Franciacorta and to Quadra itself, there is the tasting. The wines tasted are served with small nibbles, but it’s possible to add more substantial finger food to the experience.
At Quadra they run an estate visit + wine tasting package every day at 10 am and at 14:30 (except on Sundays). In summer, they also offer an extra tasting on Saturday afternoons, at 17:30.
How to book
Quadra is open to the public and runs tasting regularly. I would still suggest you contact them directly (email@example.com) to organise a tasting. This way you will be able to request a tour in English, discuss which wines you would like to taste and customise your experience.
Conti di Ducco is another estate that really deserves attention.
They produce several labels, yet their wine is a bit of a niche product. They are not the sort of bottles you would find all easily at wine bars all over the country.
It starts the vineyards, it continues at the old cellar, and it ends with the wine tasting. The whole experience will last approximately 1 hour and 30 mins.
For the wine tasting, you’ll be able to choose between a standard experience (25 euros) and a premium one (30 euros) with vintage-only wines. Both tastings include three wines and local, delicious nibbles.
At Conti di Ducco they organise tastings every weekday, yet it’s necessary to book. During weekends, it’s possible to organise to see the estate as long as there are five adults taking part.
How to book
Conti di Ducco is open to visits and tasting prior to booking. You can contact them directly in English or Italian (firstname.lastname@example.org). Request the date and time you prefer and explain if you are interested in the standard or premium tasting (or both!).
Santus Franciacorta is another of the little gems of the area. The estate is young and the wine production small. The owners, a couple of agronomists, personally take care of the vineyards, focusing on the final quality of their wines.
At Santus one breathes an informal, easy-going atmosphere. Not to say their wines are amateur in any way. Franciacorta here is really excellent!
At Santus they offer a walk through the vineyards plus a final wine tasting. At the tasting you’ll be able to compare two of their wines and taste some local cured meat, all for only 15 euros pp!
Tours can be organised on weekdays and on Saturday morning. Timings can be arranged when booking via email with them.
How to book
Booking a tour is essential and can be done by contacting email@example.com in English or Italian.
I hope you found this little guide to Franciacorta useful.
Are you going there soon? Are you thinking about where to have great wine tastings? Need some more tips? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!