Brolio, Gaiole in Chianti, Italy - April 26 2021: Aerial view of the famous Castello di Brolio in Chianti Wine Area. ; Shutterstock ID 1965200383; purchase_order: 65050; job: poi; client: ; other:

Shutterstock / Marco Bicci

Castello di Brolio


The ancestral estate of the aristocratic Ricasoli family dates from the 11th century and is the oldest winery in Italy. Currently home to the 32nd baron, it opens its formal garden, panoramic terrace and small but fascinating museum to day trippers, who often adjourn to the excellent on-site osteria for lunch after enjoying a morning tour and tasting.

Occupying three rooms in the castle's tower, Brolio's museum is dedicated to documenting the life of the extravagantly mustachioed Baron Bettino Ricasoli (1809–80), the second prime minster of the Republic of Italy, a man of many identities (scientist, farmer, winemaker, statesman and businessman) and a leading figure in the Risorgimento. One of his great claims to fame is inventing the formula for Chianti Classico that is enshrined in current DOC regulations. Entry is by guided tour only, and these must be booked in advance.

The castello's chapel dates from the early 14th century; beneath it is a crypt where generations of Ricasolis are interred. The estate produces wine and olive oil, and the huge terrace commands a spectacular view of the vineyards and olive groves.

The Classic Tour (€30, two hours) takes in the wine-making facilities and features a tasting; it runs at least three times weekly. The Vineyard Tour (€45, two hours, 3pm Thursday) sees you exploring three of the estate's different terroirs and sampling vintages beside the vines. It is essential to book online in advance.

A bosco inglese (English garden) surrounds the estate; in it (near the car park) you'll find the estate's Osteria del Castello. Just outside the estate's entrance gates, on the SP484, is a modern cantina, or cellar, where you can taste the estate's well-regarded Chianti Classico.

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