Most people who visit the Amalfi Coast come in search of sea, sun, seafood and a sunset Spritz. What they don’t realize is the coastline is home to rare, local grape varietals and beautiful vineyards meaning you can even go wine tasting on the Amalfi Coast. Limoncello isn’t the only thing on the menu in Positano!
With more than 500 registered grape varieties, Italy remains a country that mystifies many wine lovers because of its sheer diversity and long history. The best known grape varieties in Campania, where the Amalfi Coast is located, are Fiano, Falanghina and Greco (white) and Aglianico and Piedirosso (reds). On the Amalfi Coast and the Sorrento Peninsula, these popular grapes grow alongside local varieties that you won’t find anywhere else.
“The wine of the Amalfi Coast is very unique,” says Luigi Pisacane, owner and sommelier at Le Tre Sorelle Wine Room in Positano. “It does not taste like any other wine in the world because all the grapes are indigenous to this terrain and absorb the sea breeze, volcanic soil and heat of the sun.”
The Amalfi Coast is considered one of Italy’s “heroic” winemaking areas because of the seemingly impossible journey from vine to glass. When you drive along the area’s famous coastal road, every glance to the hillside reveals vineyards in terraces only reachable by foot. Grapes are cultivated and harvested by hand, carried in crates on the shoulders of the winery family members and neighbors who feel a profound tie to the land.
“The cliffs are very steep, so the vines produce only a small quantity of grapes, but this helps produce high-quality wine,” explains Pisacane. Local winemakers are proud of their heritage and are eager for the world to discover this undiscovered winemaking area. Here are some of our favorite wineries you can visit on the Amalfi Coast.
Marisa Cuomo on the Amalfi Coast
One of the first Amalfi Coast wineries to break onto the world stage, Marisa Cuomo was established in 1980 in the tiny hamlet of Furore above one of the coastline’s most famous fjords. The winery was a gift from Andrea Ferraioli to his wife, Marisa Cuomo, and it celebrates the geographical differences of the area by harvesting grapes grown throughout the Amalfi Coast.
While many white wines of the area are aged in stainless steel to preserve freshness and aromatic qualities, Marisa Cuomo’s flagship Fiorduva breaks this convention. Indigenous grapes Fenile, Ripoli and Ginestra are harvested late in the season and then fermented partially aged in small, French oak barrique to produce wine that is round and lush, with notes of candied citrus peel, dried apricots and yellow flowers. Fiorduva was first produced in 1997 and consistently wins awards for its unique features and surprisingly long shelf life.
By contrast, the estate’s Furore Bianco and Costa d’Amalfi Bianco wines are made with blends of Falanghina and Biancolella, two Campanian grapes well-known for their minerality. With flavors of crisp citrus, pear and white peach notes, and bright acidity, these wines are a perfect pairing for local specialties like pizza fritta, fried pizza dough. Enjoy this aperitif from the terrace of Marisa Cuomo’s restaurant, Bacco, as you admire the coastline before you.
Tenuta San Francesco on the Amalfi Coast
Located in Tramonti, a hillside town north of Maiori, local wine growers Gaetano and Generoso Bove, Vincenzo D’Avino and Luigi Giordano founded Tenuta San Francesco in 2004. The estate covers eight hectares (20 acres) of land cultivated with pre-phylloxera vines that are more than 100 years old. “The wine from old vines is a miracle,” they say.
To celebrate this longstanding heritage, the winemakers named their 100% Tintore red wine (made exclusively with pre-phylloxera vines) È Iss which means “This Is It” in Neapolitan dialect. A reserve, this wine has notes of tart raspberry, black cherry, smoke and leather and has been receiving recent acclaim. Last year, the 2016 vintage of È Iss was awarded the prestigious Tre Bicchieri award from Gambero Rosso, one of Italy’s leading food and wine guides.
The winery’s white “Cru” vineyard sits at a higher elevation and is home to vines of Falanghina, Pepella and Ginestra which are blended for the Per Eva reserve. Gaetano’s wife Eva, for which the wine is named, can often be found preparing gnocchi for lunch or hosting cooking classes for guests at the winery.
Abbazia di Crapolla on the Sorrentine Peninsula
The Abbazia di Crapolla lies up a narrow, rough-hewn road in Vico Equense and offers an expansive view of Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples. Named for the 11th century abbey that houses the winery today, doctor Fulvio Alfiano and business partner Giuseppe Puttini seek to showcase local varietals of the Amalfi Coast alongside international grapes like Moscato and Pinot Noir.
Sabato, an indigenous grape used to produce a red wine of the same name, is a clone of the region’s Aglianico grape and nearly extinct. A light red, it pairs well with meats as well as a Caprese salad with fresh buffalo mozzarella. For white wine lovers, Sireo is a blend of Fiano and Falanghina with mouth-watering acidity and a salty finish that recalls summer days on the beach.
When you visit the Abbazia di Crapolla, you’ll likely find Piera, Fulvio’s wife, preparing local dishes al fresco with seasonal produce from the estate’s vegetable garden.
Bosco de’ Medici in Pompeii
In the shadow of Mount Vesuvius lies the Lacryma Christi DOC winemaking area. These volcanic vineyards are cultivated with Piedirosso, Aglianico, Falanghina and Coda di Volpe (locally referred to as Caprettone). After a visit to the archeological park of Pompeii, don’t miss the change to visit Bosco de’ Medici, a young winery that borders on the ancient ruins. Wine has been made in the area for over 3,000 years and Emiddia, Sonia, Lella and Giuseppe Palomba founded this family-owned winery in 2014 to honor their grandfather Raffaele’s passion for viticulture. Though Bosco de’ Medici grows native grapes, the winery experiments with new and interesting techniques and respect sustainability and a connection with the land.
A standout is Dressel 19.2, a white wine made with 100% Caprettone grapes produced in the “orange wine” style – that is, the wine grapes are fermented on the skins and aged in terracotta amphorae before being bottled. This wine has notes of ripe apricot and peach, honey and some smoky elements due to the volcanic soil. Bosco de’ Medici also has a beautiful outdoor pergola where you can enjoy a multi-course wine tasting lunch inspired by dishes enjoyed by the ancient Romans living in Pompeii. The property also has a hotel and pool, making this a nice place to base yourself for excursions to other archeological ruins on the Pompeii card, including Herculeaneum and the overlooked Oplontis.
Le Tre Sorelle Wine Room in Positano
Opened in the in the heart of Positano 2019, Le Tre Sorelle Wine Room is a great place to enjoy these and other wines of the area. You can purchase a prepaid card and taste over 40 wines by the glass sourced from throughout Campania or ask the knowledgeable staff to prepare a flight for you. The enoteca’s selection also includes special bottles from other regions of Italy and international labels that can be accompanied by delicious appetizers. This is a great place to purchase hard-to-find local wines so you can bring the flavors of the Amalfi Coast home with you!
See More: A Local’s Guide To The Amalfi Coast