We happened upon this charming little festival back in 2003 when we were attending a wedding in Tuscany. We were staying at an old castle called Castello di Montegufoni and our view out our room was of the quaint little hill town of Montespertoli. We went to explore one evening for dinner and much to our surprise there was a little festival going on. The prefect little activity just waiting for us every evening. It takes place every year the last weekend in May and into June. This year it is May 29-June 6. Click HERE to read more about it. (Watch the video..it is in Italian, but you get the idea) All the local vineyards set up booths and let you "taste" all their wine, olive oils, and balsamic vinegar. I put taste in quotations because every "taste" is about a half a glass of wine. When you pay for the festival they give you a wine glass and glass holder you wear around your neck. It is so fun to go around to all the booths. You really get to meet the people who run the vineyards and you get to talk with them about their product. It was at this festival back in 2007 (our 2nd time around and the 50th anniversary festival) that we met our good friend Mauro. His wife's family owns a vineyard just across the hill from Montegufoni and he now runs it. It is the Ugolini Vineyard. They have great wine, but the olive oil is what we love the best! Charlie's parents have started to sell it in their shop: Le Petit Hameau. The first shipment they got around the holidays sold out very fast. The new shipment will be in very soon. The wine he gives us we save for special occasions. I will do a separate feature on Mauro at some point. It is not the worst thing in the world to have an Italian friend. All of us McDonald women love to just sit an listen to Mauro talk.....in Italian.
At night at the festival there are local musicians that play. The local restaurants are all open and usually packed. There is, of course, a wonderful little gelateria there for a sweet treat, too! It is so nice to sit under the stars in the middle of Tuscany sipping local wine, hanging out with the locals and just experiencing la dolce vita. One thing that makes it so nice is that it is not overrun with tourists. I know blogging about it isn't exactly keeping it a secret and I am potentially going to drawn attention to our quaint find, but you guys are my friends and I love sharing travel tips with my friends in hope you would do the same for me. So make your plans to travel to Tuscany, visit the wine festival, even stay at Montegufoni. I will do a separate post about it at some point, too.
There has been talk about the McDonald's making another trip to Montespertoli next year. We will see...our girls are of Disney age, so the rest of the extended family may be taking the trip without us. Here are some photos from our past visits to the Festa di vini!
Charlie doing a little wine tasting. Note the wine bag around his neck and our friend Mauro in the green shirt!
Note: When searching for a good Chianti...look for the Gallo Nero "Black Rooster" seal. It is the official seal of the Chianti Classico region. If you see it, you know you are getting an authentic bottle of Chianti from this region!