I'm going to Tuscany for my honeymoon for two weeks in late May/early June. I'll be on the Ligurian coast to start, but then will be near Maremma (and Ornellaia/Sassicaia/Antinori) for a couple of days, and then in Florence for the second week. All I've read has gotten me very excited. I'd like to buy some good Tuscan wines to enjoy back here in Virginia. I was hoping the forum readers might have some gems of wisdom for me regarding my questions below:

1) Will I find the best $$$ deals at the wineries, or are the wine shops in the towns going to have pretty good prices?
2) What is the best way to find interesting wineries that are visitor-friendly? Should I make appointments, and if so, how far in advance? (I don't speak Italian, btw)
3) Due to budget restrictions, I'd like to buy several bottles in the $30-60 range, and take a few precious bottles in the $60-100 range home as well, maybe a case in total. Any thoughts on a good buying strategy?
4) What vintages should I expect will be available to taste and purchase?
5) If I end up with a case of wine (or two), should I ship it back, or try to carry it back (and presumably pay some import tariff)?
6) Anything wine or winery related that I should just not miss?

I've looked at some websites with related info, but I'm hoping some of you have some good ideas for me. Thanks a lot!
Original Post
My fiancee and I are going to Tuscany on our honeymoon also. However, we will be there early September 2004. I asked similar questions, and here is what I found...

1) Will I find the best $$$ deals at the wineries, or are the wine shops in the towns going to have pretty good prices?
-- Wineries

2) What is the best way to find interesting wineries that are visitor-friendly? Should I make appointments, and if so, how far in advance? (I don't speak Italian, btw)
-- Most wineries speak English... DEFINATELY make appointments. Most require 24 hours in advance.

3) Due to budget restrictions, I'd like to buy several bottles in the $30-60 range, and take a few precious bottles in the $60-100 range home as well, maybe a case in total. Any thoughts on a good buying strategy?
-- I am going to try wines at the wineries I visit, and buy directly from them. Also, I'm told there are quite a few larger format bottles available, which are next to impossible to get in the US. So, that may be a way to go.

4) What vintages should I expect will be available to taste and purchase?
-- Taste... 2003 Purchase... probably a lot

5) If I end up with a case of wine (or two), should I ship it back, or try to carry it back (and presumably pay some import tariff)?
-- Carry the wine... and ship your clothes. The tariff is VERY small, so even if you declare, customs usually lets you go.

6) Anything wine or winery related that I should just not miss?
I'm told Banfi is like the Disneyland of Italian Wineries.

Let me know how it goes, and if you have any recommendations for me!!!
quote:
Originally posted by lentini:
I'm going to Tuscany for my honeymoon for two weeks in late May/early June. I'll be on the Ligurian coast to start, but then will be near Maremma (and Ornellaia/Sassicaia/Antinori) for a couple of days, and then in Florence for the second week. All I've read has gotten me very excited. I'd like to buy some good Tuscan wines to enjoy back here in Virginia. I was hoping the forum readers might have some gems of wisdom for me regarding my questions below:

1) Will I find the best $$$ deals at the wineries, or are the wine shops in the towns going to have pretty good prices?
You are going to be buying in Euro so at today's exchange rates you won't find any deals. Buy the wine that is already backed up in the USA distribution system from the long list of good vintages available.
2) What is the best way to find interesting wineries that are visitor-friendly? Should I make appointments, and if so, how far in advance? (I don't speak Italian, btw)
You must make reservations in advance if you want to see and taste anything special. There are many properties where someone speaks English so check this out first.
3) Due to budget restrictions, I'd like to buy several bottles in the $30-60 range, and take a few precious bottles in the $60-100 range home as well, maybe a case in total. Any thoughts on a good buying strategy?
The best buying strategy is to buy all the bargains that you can find in the USA and save your back.
4) What vintages should I expect will be available to taste and purchase?
2002 and back
5) If I end up with a case of wine (or two), should I ship it back, or try to carry it back (and presumably pay some import tariff)?

6) Anything wine or winery related that I should just not miss?
Bistecca Fiorentina
Like this!

I've looked at some websites with related info, but I'm hoping some of you have some good ideas for me. Thanks a lot!

like this
or this
Or most of all this

Don't worry about wine. Visit the wineries and have a great time, but buy your wine in the USA and worry about EATING!

Craig Camp
http://www.vinocibo.com
Things to keep in mind while buying wine in Italy:

1. Many of the best tuscan wines can be found in the US already.

2. The current exchange rate makes purchases much less attractive.

3. Wine shops in Florence have very high mark ups.

4. It gets very hot during the day in Tuscany. Be careful with your wines, whether they be in a hotel, villa, or car.
I can't offer too much on the wine front as to buying strategies except to echo Craig Camp's comment that there will be no real deals due to the current exchange rates. I was there in September and the rate was 1.15 and I had a bit of sticker shock when I factored that in.

I ended up lugging about a case back, but of mostly sentimental wines more so that gotta have wines. The wine shops all generally have English speaking dudes, especially in towns of a larger size or where tourists are more likely to venture.

If you want tips on where to eat or what to see/not miss, particularly on the Firenze (aka Florence) bit, I can offer you some recent tips as I was just there. Let me know if you're interested and I can elaborate.

www.vinocellar.com -- Mm-Mm-good
There are many small, very good wineries that you will encounter driving the roads of Chianti Classico. Nearly everyone speaks a little English - enough to get by. It wouldn't hurt to learn a few words, though. Just look for a Venditta Diretta sign and drive on in. Keep in mind that nearly everything except restaurants are closed from Noon to 3 every day. The big wineries are fun, but it would be a shame to miss the charm of some of the small places. Buy most of your wine in the USA - good Italians are widely available. Do however bring back some cheese - no problem bringing back any firm to hard cheese. Some of these you cannot get at home. I wish I had brought back more Pecorino Di Pienze. Wonderful.
For what it is worth,

San Giusto a Retenanno is located in a mideival fort in Gaiole in Chianti. You do not need an appointment, and they are very hospitable and let you taste everything they have available to sell.

They make both my favorite Chianti (Riserva) and my favorite 100% Sangiovesse Super-Tuscan -- Percarlo. Their regular Chianti and 100% Merlot -- Ricolma -- are also excellent. They also make the best olive oil I've ever tasted.


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