Guest post by Rebecca Winke, owner of Brigolante Guest Apartments in Umbria:
At the end of the season, Umbria begins to wind down its madcap summer frivolity - music festivals, food festivals, art festivals, medieval festivals - and get back to what this rural region has been doing best for millenia, making wonderful wine and olive oil.
If you are planning an autumn trip, you can observe first hand the harvest and production of both Umbrian wines-primarily Sagrantino, but also Montefalco Rosso, Trebbiano, and Grecchetto--and extra-virgin olive oil--milled with both traditional and modern technology. Being able to see the care and labor that goes into making these local products gives you a window into understanding the history, culture, and culinary tradition that make Umbria such a fascinating region to visit. Oh, and did I mention the tastings?
If you are visiting Umbria during the months of September and October, you'll likely be able to see the vendemmia, or grape harvest. One of my favorite areas in Umbria is the countryside surrounding the enchanting town of Montefalco, famous for its hearty Sagrantino. The rolling hills are covered with vineyards, and the area is dotted with tiny stone villages and hamlets.
For a general overview of the Sagrantino area, with a listing of wineries, restaurants, B&Bs and inns, and festivals and events related to the wine country surrounding Montefalco, La Strada del Sagrantino website is a great place to start. Of the vintners listed, my favorites are Scacciadiavoli, a traditional winery which offers a short guided tour and tasting, Di Filippo, an organic winery which has longer tours and a choice of tasting selections available, and Paolo Bea, an award winning family winery pioneering biodynamic winemaking methods, which they are happy to explain to you during your visit.
If you'd like to visit Umbria's wine country but aren't keen on driving, consider taking a day long wine tour. In the area around Montefalco, Gusto Wine Tours takes you to tastings at three cantine, plus lunch, in their own van. Otherwise, if you really want to enjoy the area's picturesque scenery, Bike in Umbria suggests a "Montefalco and the Sagrantino wine roads" road cycling itinerary or "The Sagrantino wine trail and view from Montefalco" mountain biking itinerary on their exhaustive website.
Continue to Part 2: Umbria Olive Oil and Olive Harvest