Wine Tasting at Arnaldo Caprai Winery in Montefalco
Italy has the largest variety of grapes, which are only grown locally and cannot be found in any other country. This presents a great opportunity to try wines made from these rare varieties and save Chardonnay or Merlot for another time. Sagrantino is one of the oldest varieties of grapes, which only grows around the town of Montefalco. Nowdays over 80 local wineries produce wine using Sagrantino grape and one of the most famous ones is Arnaldo Caprai. Located just outside the main town, it is a beautiful estate with rows of vines stretching as far as the eye can see.
We have booked a visit, which included winery tour and a tasting session. There are a number of options you can select HERE , depending on the time available, your group size and your wine interests.
Our tour started with an introduction to the winery and its roots. The birth of Montefalco Sagrantino goes back to the 80s. Arnaldo Caprai was one of the pioneers to cultivate the special character of Sagrantino grapes and eventually changing the landscape for many wine producers in the area. Nowdays, wine tourism is flourishing with many people visiting the town of Montefalco and its surrounding area for this reason alone.
The grapes are harvested by hand in mid-October and the process of wine production is slightly different to usual methods. Once grapes are harvested, their skin is cut to allow the juice to come out, but grape skins are left to ferment together with the juice. Skins stay in contact with fermented juice for a while and are eventually taken away to make grappa.
After about a month in tanks, the wine gets relocated to the oak casks (barrique) and stays there for 2 years. The final step is bottling, where Montefalco Sagrantino matures for another 2 years. Every year the winery buys 200 brand new oak casks to smooth out Sagrantino’s character.
The old casks will get used for maturing other types of wines, but not for Sagrantino. Throughout the tour you get to realize that Sagrantino rules here. While other kinds of wines might get less than a VIP treatment, Montefalco Sagrantino always gets the best seat in the house.
Montefalco Sagrantino can be kept in the bottle for up to 10 years, so it is a great wine if you can ensure correct storage conditions.
After the tour , it was time to stop at a beautiful tasting area. Due to Covid, the terrace, overlooking the vineyard, was closed, but we had a great time sampling the wines in pleasant tasting room. The wines we tried were:
Collepiano Montefalco Sagrantino
The wines were complimented by the selection of cold cuts and cheeses, as well as bread and locally produced olive oil. Staff at the winery was extremely helpful and knowledgeable about wines. Denise at the tasting room and our tour guide Camilla both completed certified wine courses, so they knew exactly what they were talking about.
I definitely recommend visiting Arnaldo Caprai winery if you are in Umbria. You can come without booking for a simple tasting, However, if you fancy an extended experience, I recommend to book, as they do get busy with visitors. You can book your experience HERE.
To entertain the kids, we took them for a run in the vineyard. There is plenty of space and everything is open so you can see the grapes up close, talk about how they are growing, and what becomes of them. I find these hand-on experiences in the vineyards way more useful than dry lessons at school on agriculture and food/drink production.
While you are here, definitely visit the town of Montefalco, appreciate the views from the hill and think how lucky you are to be sharing this landscape and wine with many other people from around the world.
Disclaimer: Our visit was hosted by Arnaldo Caprai, but all opinions are my own.