Plan a wine tour around the hill-top town that has given its name to one of Italy's best known wines. Here's our guide on where to visit, eat and stay...
How to get there
Fly into Florence or Pisa airport.
Drive from Florence to Montalcino in about two hours; Pisa to Montalcino takes about half an hour longer.
The nearest city is Siena, which is an hour’s drive.
Montalcino travel guide: Wineries to visit
There is only one place to start: Biondi Santi, five minutes southwest of Montalcino by car.
Timelessness is what denotes Tenuta Greppo, the noble birthplace of Brunello as testified by an 1869 certificate in the brick-vaulted tasting room, the first documented mention of ‘Brunello’. Upon appointment, free tours are available around the historic winery, from the vinification room, with its cement tanks, to the extraordinary and grand 19th-century Slavonian oak barrels in the ageing cellars.
Learn how Biondi Santi only labels its bottles just before sale to prevent them from deteriorating, and about its exclusive ricolmatura service, offered to collectors who can choose to have their bottles of riserva topped up over time.
Tours and tastings available Monday – Friday, closed in August and on holidays. Book in advance.
Also pivotal in putting Montalcino on the wine destination map is Banfi, just 20 minutes away – take the scenic La Maremmana strada bianca route if you’re not afraid of a few bumps.
It is thanks to New York exporters, the Mariani family, that Brunello has become the internationally renowned entity that it is today. Take time to unwind over a leisurely lunch with estate wine-matching at Castello Banfi’s classic Taverna, or you could simply stop by the adjacent Enoteca for a themed degustazione.
If you have time, the winery tour impresses by the sheer vastness of the space purpose designed to welcome visitors, the innovative Horizon micro-vinification project with composite vats in oak and stainless steel, and the silent restfulness of the barrique cellar.
Guided tours available by appointment Monday – Friday, 4:00 pm from March 25 to November 12 (except holidays) and Monday – Friday , 3:30 pm from January 7 to March 24 and November 13 to December 17 (except holidays).
Back on the road to Montalcino you will come to comely Le Ragnaie (visits by appointment), whose old vines and ventilated location manage to conjure up one of the sagest Brunello expressions of the moment.
Owned by Riccardo Campinoti and his American wife Jennifer, the winery is a handy place to stay with its peaceful apartments, pool and expanses of happy, healthy vineyards.
Visits, tastings and tours by appointment.
A quarter of an hour southwest, past the Romanesque abbey of Sant’Antimo, with Monte Amiata standing strong in the distance, Stella di Campalto (visits by appointment) quietly plays Gregorian chants to her spontaneously fermenting biodynamic Sangiovese, an otherworldly wine of divine finesse, whether as Rosso or Brunello.
Contact in advance for visits and tours.
When to visit
If music is your thing, mid-July is the time to visit Montalcino for the Jazz & Wine showcase organised by Banfi (see above) in the monumental medieval fortress.