Located along the wild southern coastline of Tuscany, Bolgheri is the birthplace of Super Tuscans and home to Italy’s fabled Sassicaia red wine. Though its history is shorter than that of Chianti, it has become a coveted destination for enophiles and produces full-bodied reds with international grape varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot (rather than Tuscany’s local Sangiovese grape).
From Florence, the drive will take you about 1 hour and 40 minutes. You can also take the train to the “Castagnetto Carducci” train station which is about a 12 minute car ride from the town of Bolgheri itself. That said, you’ll probably want access to a car if you’re visiting this area so you can check out a few wineries! I’d suggest visiting the town of Bolgheri and two wineries for a well-rounded day of wine tasting.
The town of Bolgheri
Boasting the longest cypress lined road in Italy, with over 2,500 trees lining the 5 kilometer road, the drive into the town of Bolgheri will make you feel like you’re crossing over into the magical world of Italian wine. Once you park and walk through the gothic archway of the Castello di Gherardesca, you’ll find yourself in the heart of the hamlet. There are numerous wine bars in Bolgheri but my favorite is Enoteca Tognoni where you can get tasty food in a cozy atmosphere surrounded by walls of wine bottles. During busy months, you can even try a glass of the famous Sassicaia here for about €25.
Super Tuscan Wineries on the Tuscan Coast
Historic wineries with tastings from €80-€120 per person
- Tenuta San Guido: First founded in 1944, Tenuta San Guido’s Mario Incisa della Rocchetta is the name that spearheaded the Bolgheri region to international fame. This year, the estate celebrates the 50th anniversary of Sassicaia, a Bordeaux-style red wine made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Tenuta San Guido also produces Guidalberto, a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend, and Le Difese, a Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese blend.
- Ornellaia: Located just around the corner from the town of Bolgheri, Ornellaia is one of the area’s most renowned wineries. Along with Sassicaia, this was one of the first producers of Bolgheri Super Tuscans offering a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc blend. They also have a 100% Merlot. Each year, Ornellaia invites an international artist to create a series of limited-edition wine labels as part of its Vendemmia d’Artista project.
- Grattamacco: Founded in 1977 by Maurizio Castelli, Grattamacco was one of the first Super Tuscan pioneers with a red that blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese. The estate is set upon two hills that face the sea, granting a high altitude for the area, and features a single vineyard trained in the alberello style. Grattamacco was also the first estate to plant Vermentino in Bolgheri, a mineral-rich white wine.
- Guado al Tasso at Tenuta Belvedere: Just off the parallel Via Aurelia, this wine is produced by famed Tuscan winemaker Antinori. Piero Antinori was another early Super Tuscan maker his brother, Ludovico Antinori, started Ornellaia. Home to the beautiful “Bolgheri Amphitheater”, a plain encircled with rolling hills, the Guado al Tasso estate has Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Vermentino Nero and Bianco vines.
- Tenuta Argentiera: Further south on the Via Aurelia, you’ll find Argentiera. Named for the silver mines of the Etruscan era (argento means silver in Italian) this is the winery closest to the sea. You can taste the wines down by the entrance or take the jeep tour around the vineyards and up the steep hill to a kind of wine fortress at the top with a view of the sea.
Wineries with Tastings from €20 – €50 per person
- Castello di Bolgheri: With vineyards are located on the historic Gherardesca lands surrounding Bolgheri castle, and 18th century cellars located in Bolgheri, you can enjoy a wine tasting and step back into history without ever leaving the town. The Gherardesca family ruled most of the region since the middle ages and without their land holdings, Super Tuscan wine may have never existed. Remember Mario Incisa della Rocchetta? He married Clarice Gherardesca, which is why he was given the plot of land that would eventually become the birthplace of Sassicaia.
- Caccia al Piano: Right next door to Ornellaia on Strada Provinciale Bolgherese, Tenuta Caccia al Piano was first established in 1868 but their wine making production dates back to 2003. While they may be a newer estate, their wines are affordable and absolutely noteworthy. Their olive oil farm started in 1987 is right across the street from the winery where you can have a delicious Tuscan lunch outside in their olive grove.
- Podere Sapaio: Their cellars are closer to the Castagneto Carducci train station in Donoratico and offer €10 tastings but you can also do more picturesque tours of the vineyard on request for €50. The characteristic crown on their label is a tribute to the nobility of wine, and while they are also new to the wine region (production started in 2000), their two Bolgheri DOC wines are garnering warranted attention.
- Duemani: Thirty minutes north of Bolgheri in Riparbella, Duemani is a biodynamic winery founded in 2000 by Elena Celli and Luca D’Attoma. In addition to fruity reds aged in barrels, the estate produces a 100% Syrah Rosé and 100% Grenache wine aged in amphora.
- Caiarossa: Another winery located in Riparbella, Caiarossa wine making follows the principles of Feng Shui with carefully constructed cellars that follow choices of color, placement and materials. Who can say if the wines appreciate it, but guests certainly do!