Grapes in Tuscany – from harvest to wines, mains & sweets

Schiacciata all'uva - great Tuscan dessert recipe using just-harvested grapes

With the 2011 harvest for the most part completed, a little earlier this year owing to the dry weather in Tuscany this summer, there is much excitement about the forecasted great 2011 vintage. Tuscan reds from 2011 are expected to be exceptionally good, with the low rain fall meaning there is less water content in the grapes and thus more concentrated sugars within.

For the Tuscan white wines, first fermentation is well underway and is looking quite promising also.

Visiting Tuscan cellars now, the pungent scent of first fermentation is mixed in with the wonderfully woody perfumes from the small barrique and larger wood barrels, coupled with the musty smell of centuries past.

It is believed that the Etruscans who dominated culture in (what is now) Italy some 650 years BC also reined in the wild-growing grape vines that veined their way through what was to become one of the world’s best known and much-loved wine countries, Tuscany.

Grape vines just after harvest time in Tuscany

Once tamed, the Romans and later populations continued with the long-established wine tradition, along the way learning that certain terrains, specific sun-exposure, particular varietals and other techniques resulted in better wines.

Wine was considered ‘safer’ to drink than water which may have been contaminated, and as such, was even given as part of a day’s wages! Workers fervently claimed that a glass or two of wine helped them worked harder too.

Tuscany’s most famous grape variety is surely the Sangiovese, with Vernaccia, Malvasia, Colorino, Trebbiano, Canaiolo, Barbera, and Moscatello  being arguably the other most famous Tuscan grape types, and Ciliegiolo, Mammolo, Raspirosso, Gamay, Grand Noir, Aleatico and Cabernet Sauvignon also having a positive influence in the great Tuscan wines that are world-famous today.

Chianti and the more selective Chianti Classico area wines were the first to become famous wine regions, before Brunello di Montalcino, Carmignano, Morellino di Scansano, and Vernaccia names spread around the world as palate pleasing wines.

At this time of year, there are many harvest festivals where grapes and wines are combined to produce a wonderful meal, in an idyllic location. There is often traditional live music and much celebration dedicated to not only the completion of the harvest but also to the release of previous years’ wines which the locals are eager to try.

The menu is often grape-focused as well, keeping in line with the tradition of using only the freshest of in-season ingredients to produce delicious Tuscan recipes.

Examples include ‘arista con l’uva’ – roast pork with grapes, a delicious alternative to the Anglo-Saxon pork with apple sauce and for dessert, ‘schiacciata all’uva’ – translating to ‘squished’ bread with grapes owing to the way the bread is pressed down flat with the fingertips before having grapes pressed into the dough.

If you would like to immerse yourself in the Tuscan wine-producing countryside, enjoy a wine tasting and cellar visit, and be part of the scenery that has inspired so many great artworks, we have a small-group Best of Tuscany tour visiting Siena, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni too, as well as stopping for lunch and wine tasting at an award-winning wine estate. See the highlights of Tuscany in one spectacular day tour from Florence – Best of Tuscany small-group tour.

You can also see the stunning Tuscan countryside by bike on our Original Tuscany Bike Tour – a small-group guided bike tour through Tuscany including lunch and wine tasting.

Getting to the surrounding Tuscan countryside from Florence is but a short and delightful drive. If you would like to have a private guide accompanying you, we have private tours that cater to your every desire. From Florence (and Tuscany) to RomeVenice to the Cinque Terre and beyond, we are at your beck and call.

To learn about food and have fun learning discovering tasty ways to use seasonal Italian ingredients to make delicious, typical dishes before indulging in a delicious meal made by you, we have hands-on cooking classes in Florence.

Visit a Tuscan villa on the Taste of Tuscany at the Villa wine tour. Explore historic wine estates before undertaking a wine tasting. Tread through the terrain, enjoying spectacular views of the Tuscan countryside up-close and personal.

White grapes - also turned into great Tuscan white wines

Stroll through the Tuscan countryside, join us for a Perfect Morning in Tuscany small-group walking tour. Leaving from Florence’s city centre and heading to the surrounding countryside, this small-group walking tour includes, well, walking in Tuscany, as well as lunch with wine at a stunning Renaissance Villa Estate, accompanied by an expert tour guide.

To explore other areas of Italy, can check out our Artviva Walking Tours website to read more about the tours we have to offer in Florence, RomeVeniceCinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more.

Visit our site for more wonderful things to see and do in Italy (besides, of course, just meeting the Artviva staff!), and email us on for more information.

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    1. I am planning to have pre-wedding photo toihsong in 2012. My target location may be Venice or Greece or Austria. I would like to have more details on your pre wedding photo shoot packages, and do you provide any outfits, make up and hair stylingThanks

      1. Ciao Jenifer, if you would like to email us at, we can chat with you more about what you’re after and how we can be of assistance to you. Grazie, Jade at Artviva.