Chianti Wine Region

The Chianti Wine Region

The Chianti Region, an area 65 square miles in size, is located just south of Florence and north of Siena.  Although there are bus tours from both cities, the area is best explored by car.  Road SS-222 is the major wine route, and from it branches a maze of minor roads, not all kept in the best condition or even paved.


This area is considered one of the oldest wine regions in the world, as evidenced by the medieval castles and ancient towns that line the hillsides.  One of the grapes (the Canaiolo nero) used to make Chianti predates the Roman civilization and was once known as the “Etruscan grape.” 


The name Chianti most likely was taken from a noble Etruscan family name, the Clantes.  In the 13th century Florence created the “Lega del Chianti” to unite the three most important areas, Castellina, Radda and Gaiole.  The black rooster became the symbol of the Lega del Chianti.


In 1716 the Grand Ducal defined the boundaries of the Chianti Region and codified the rules for making Chianti.  Since wineries outside of the official boundary began marketing their own wines as Chianti (though not following the rules of production), the “Consorizo del Gallo Nero” was established (1924).  The wineries that are members of this consortium use the black rooster as their symbol, and together these wineries make about 80% of the Chianti Classico produced today.  You will know you have an authentic bottle of Chianti if the black rooster is on the pink label at the throat of the bottle.


The main attraction for a visitor to this region are its many wineries and medieval towns.  Below you will find some information on the best choices in alphabetical order.  If you are interested in touring a winery and having a tasting, it is best to reserve in advance.  Although reserving one or two days in advance may be enough, a week or more in advance is appropriate in busy months (May-September).  For our clients traveling to this region, we can make arrangements for a tour and tasting.



Castello di Brolio

Location- South of Gaiole in Chianti

This is the winery that made the first true Chianti Classico in the mid-19th century.  The castle had been in the Ricasoli family since 1141 until it was sold to a large corporation for mass production of wines.  In 1993 the family bought it back from Seagrams, and has since become one of Italy’s best wine producers.  Their focus is on only one wine.  Their Chianti is made with 100% sangiovese grapes.  


Castello di Verrazzano

Location- South of Impruneta and north of Greve in Chianti

This estate has been in the Verrazzano family and producing wine since 1170.  One of the family members, Giovanni Verrazzano born in 1485, became tired of life in Chianti and left to become an explorer.  He discovered New York!    


Castello di Vicchiomaggio

Location- South of Impruneta and north of Greve in Chianti

This is one of the best preserved castles in the Chianti Region, dating back to 957 AD.  The estate produces wine and offers tours of the cellars, wine tasting and cooking classes.



Location- West of Castellina in Chianti

The wines produced here are rated as some of the best in the region.  Not only do they produce Chianti, but they also make a Chardonnay that is allowed to age in wood and steel casks. This process keeps the wine from becoming too fruity. A variety of estate grown olive oils complete their offerings.


Villa Vignamaggio

Location- Southeast of Greve in Chianti

This orange colored villa is surrounded by cypress trees and gardens.   The villa has been featured in movies including the 1993 film, "Much Ado About Nothing".  This is also the birthplace of Lisa Gherardini (1479) who later posed for Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.  Today this is considered one of the top vineyards in the region.


Towns in the Region


Castellina in Chianti- This town has more of a medieval feel than others in the region.  Its history dates back to the Etruscans when this was a major population center.  The “Via della Volte” is a tunnel street that has windows overlooking the valley below.  Just outside of town on the road to Radda is a perfect example of an Etruscan tomb,  Ipogeo Etrusco di Montecalvario.  It is a green hill surrounded by pine trees and topped by a pair of cypress trees.  There is a stone walled tunnel that leads to the burial chambers. 


Greve in Chianti- This town is the unofficial capital of the Chianti Region.  It came to prominence in the 13th and 14th centuries as a major trading center.  The town square (which is more of a triangle) is filled with dozens of wine and gift shops and cafes.  It is the host of the Chianti wine festival each September. 


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