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Ink and Vine: A Wine Blog.

Baracchi Winery: A Slice of Heaven Under the Tuscan Sun.

By Maren Swanson • June 25th, 2015
Baracchi Winery: A Slice of Heaven Under the Tuscan Sun.   #Italy #Cortona #UndertheTuscanSun

About two weeks until my big trip to Italy, I sat up late one night at my desk unable to sleep. The magnitude of the adventure I was about to embark on had finally hit me and the impending countdown was starting to pressure me a bit. My fellow familial travelers had taken the reigns with most of our traveling plans because they had already ventured to parts of this region abroad, but I wanted to contribute too, so there I was, staring at a computer, looking up blogs, hastags, you name it, to get some Italian inspiration…

After an hour of perusing websites and blogs, I had landed on Twitter and searched for familiar city names from the one book that truly made my love for Italy blossom: Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes. I had read her descriptive novel back in the day and years later seen the movie version of the book (an enhanced “Hollywood” story with a love affair and the enchanting Diane Lane). I typed in Cortona and began to follow the hastag crumbs until I stumbled upon a winery planted in that very storybook town. I looked up the Baracchi Winery website and online photos. I was impressed. Suddenly, I decided to reach out to the email address and request a 5 a.m.! Oh well, I thought, nine-hour time difference, right?

A few days later, I was shocked to receive a reply email from the owner himself, Riccardo Baracchi; he had kindly invited my guests and I to stop in for a wine tasting while we were traveling abroad in the nearby city of Florence. I was stoked. I finally had something to contribute to our trip! Mr. Baracchi and I stayed in contact over the next couple of weeks and I set up an appointment to stop by Baracchi Winery on a Saturday at 1 p.m.

Riding a Fiat through Cortona, Italy.
Baracchi Winery in Corotona, Italy.

On the day of our journey into Cortona (in the province of Arezzo), my sister and I decided to rent the traditional Italian Fiat and drive along the Tuscan countryside to our destination instead of taking the train. I’m so happy we did. She and I soaked up the view of roadside vineyards, rustic villas and Italian Cypress trees during our one and a half hour drive to Cortona from Florence. If you’ve never driven in Italy before, then be warned of roundabouts – they’re everywhere. You have to be fast and alert or else you’ll keep going in circles, literally.

My sister, Melissa, followed her intermittent GPS directions, after passing through a Cortona roundabout, up a steep hill with a one-way road so far up that we knew we had to be lost. But it was the kind of lost I didn’t mind. We pulled over to check our electronic map and realized we were immersed in an international collage of nature; Italian butterflies, poppies, and tranquility surrounded us, and if it weren’t for our appointment time, we probably would have stopped for a picnic. She and I decided to turn around, re-route and head back into the town area where we thought there would be better signage.

Baracchi Winery Cortona, Italy.
Il Falconiere in Corotona, Italy.

Sure enough, at the initial roundabout we had passed through, we noticed a sign for Baracchi Winery and Il Falconiere (the restaurant attached to the winery), so we made our way through the windy, tiny road and stopped briefly at the final turn to appreciate an old brick structure housing candles, fresh flowers and frames of religious icons. Below the Madonna and child, we could barely make out the “Ave Maria,” constructed in the stone. We then took a left and realized we were on another one-way street again so we had to back out slowly to let an oncoming car out. Around the last curve, we pulled to one of the most beautiful driveways I had even seen; vibrant purple flowers were laced above our canopy pull-in, making us extra cautious to not damage one of the delicate petals as we drove in.

Baracchi Trebianno Sparkling Wine.  #wine #Italy #UndertheTuscanSun #BaracchiWinery #Trebianno
Baracchi Trebianno Sparkling Wine.  #wine #Italy #UndertheTuscanSun #BaracchiWinery #Trebianno

Before we could make our way up the small hill leading out of the driveway, we were greeted by a friendly young women asking, “Swanson?” Why, yes, that’s me and how lovely to be welcomed with such an inviting tone. She might as well have had a sign that read, Welcome to our paradise, Maren …and Tuscan paradise is exactly what we had just discovered. Sometimes I’ll read things in books and see things in movies described about a certain destination and I will set my standards a little lower because I feel they must have been somehow immortalized and/or hyped up by seductive words or special effects. Not here.

Baracchi Winery in Cortona, Italy.
Maren Swanson at Baracchi Winery in Cortona, Italy.
Baracchi Winery in Cortona, Italy.

Baracchi Winery is special. Sure, the Cortona countryside and hilltop town of cascading colorful homes doesn't hurt its charm, but the property itself has history, rich terrain, and as we were about to discover, a great wine and dine combo.

Melissa and I decided to have lunch at Il Falconiere before we headed out on our tour of the winery. She and I were seated al fresco and presented with a tasting menu, including vegetarian options, orchestrated by Silvia Baracchi, (Ricardo’s wife and Michelin rated chef of Il Falconiere). Overwhelmed by the tantalizing options, we asked our attentive server to select some dishes for us to try so we could relax and take in our serene setting. I started to snap photos of the glass room to our right, where we watched servers enter and exit from. They would walk in, walk downstairs and re-appear minutes later with samplers of sparkling wine an amuse bouche for us – it was as if we had witnessed a culinary magic trick.

The sparking wine we sipped made with 100% Trebbiano grapes, was incredibly refreshing after our drive and complimented our cream-filled cucumber and Parmesan crisps sent complimentary from the kitchen. Then, without warning, a jovial Italian gentleman whisked me from my chair and positioned me in the middle of the dining area. He placed an apron on me, with a bottle of wine in one hand and a freakin’ saber in the other. There was what seemed a ten second tutorial, and then - Wham! Pop! The bottle exploded with fizz and everyone applauded. It had all happened so fast and thank goodness, otherwise I would have been back in my seat faster than you could say, check please!

view my food journey on zomato!

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