Any "must see" wineries near Florence?

A colleague and his wife are taking a belated honeymoon trip to Greece, Italy, and Spain (insert jealous smiley here). They aren’t wine geeks, but enjoy new experiences and are interested in visiting a winery or two during their time in Florence. Anyone know of any suitable places for them to visit? Appointments required? English spoken?

Thanks in advance.

Plenty of wineries on the road between Florence and Sienna. I enjoyed Fontodi and Isole y Olena. There are plenty of others but these are the first two that came to mind. I made appointments at both. Language was not an issue.

Steve–

You simply MUST visit Badia a Coltibuono. (shill-alert, I do work with this winery). It’s AMAZING. It’s not just an organic Chianti producer–it’s an Epicurean playground. It was built originally inside a 15th century monastery, which has now been transformed into a bed and breakfast. But most importantly, they have a world-class cooking school, founded by Lorenza de’Medici (she had a cooking show in the 70s on PBS). Her son Guido Stucchi just took the reigns at teh schoola nd you can take week long or single day courses in authentic Tuscan cooking. Also, there is a restaurant. here is a link./ Check out the grounds! Fantastic wines and hospitality. There is a restaurant, too.

AND they have special packages right now:

http://www.coltibuono.com/pagebase.asp?s=18&s2=108
http://www.coltibuono.com/

It’s about an hour commute from Florence and totally worth it: http://www.coltibuono.com/road_map.asp?s=18&s2=6&ac=1" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Paul & Sarah, thanks to both of you for the info. I know nothing about the area, so your comments are very helpful.

Sarah: reluctant clarification, I’m not the one visiting Florence - it’s a guy I work with, and I’m very jealous of what sounds like a great trip.

A long time ago, stayed at the Villa Vignamaggio in Greve in Chianti, a good wine producer, and a beautiful hotel, well sited with lots of amenities. At the time (1997 I think) it ran about $120/nite, assume closer to $300 now. It’sa actually more famous for being the residence of Mona Lisa (yes THAT one) and being where the film, Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” was filmed with Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves and more. They can get a good preview of the place and the surounding countryside by checking out the movie.

Not really a winery, but for anyone who enjoys wine, I would recommend a visit to Cantinetta Antinori in Palazzo Antinori in Florence. It’s not just about the wine, but shows the place of wine in Florentine culture. Last time I was there, the food was quite good.

I had an otherworldly lunch at Badia many years ago, before it was renovated (spell that n-a-p-a-f-i-e-d)… but if your friend goes to Badia, I would send them down through Gaiole to the village of Monti (part of Gaiole) and visit Rocca di Montegrossi as well…

Your co-worker and his wife should consider staying in the monasteries and nunneries in the area… some are so-so, but others are like staying in museums; inexpensive as well, at around 60 dollars US. The people you stay with generally speak English, and you get up close and personal with the area. My wife and I stayed in a nunnery in Florence (I still think, “Firenze”) and it was INcredible. Check out Rick Steves’ guide to Florence.

We found our trip (this April) to be richly rewarding and fabulously fun. You should go, too! We drove a rental car, ate a LOT of pizza, and visited a blur of vineyards and wineries.