I reserved this Wine Tour and Lunch at Avignonesi in Montepulciano before leaving for Italy, based on reviews on Tripadvisor. I'm very glad I did, since it was a highlight of my trip and the lunch one of the best meals I ate. It began at noon, but we arrived early, so walked around the grounds, checked in and offered a glass of prosecco. That's the way to start a tour! Our group left at noon for the tour, where our tour guide Valentina (who speaks 5 languages) explained to us about the experimental methods Avignonesi employeed to arrive at the organic (tending towards biodynamic) methods used to grow their grapes. Some of it (burying a cow's horn filled with quartz) sounds like New Age hokum pokum, but you can't argue with the winery's results with 98 Wine Spectator points on their wines. After visiting the fields outside, where Valentina clearly and confidently explained the growing process, we visited cellars to see where the wine is kept before it is bottled and the cellar where Vin Santo is aged. After the 45 minute tour, we were ushered into a lovely room with glass doors that overlooked the Tuscan valley. Each group had it's own, white table clothed table, and we then enjoyed a four course lunch. It began with a delicious amuse bouche- pecorino cheese, with cherry tomatoes and fava beans in olive oil (with a chardonnay) and ended with a plate of pairings to go with the delicious (and expensive) Vin Santo, the typical dessert wine of Tuscany. The waiter explained to try each item (sweet or salty) with the Vin Santo and see which you enjoy. After three hours, my 25 year old son was getting antsy and we had another winery to visit, so we left. It was a rather expensive tour, but well worth it. I believe you can come just for lunch, as well. Exquisite food in a beautiful setting, delicious wine and attentive staff.
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